“Be like a duck,” actor Michael Caine once said. “Calm on the surface, but paddling like the dickens underneath.” That sounds a lot like CLiF: our small staff and team of volunteers and presenters always keep smiles on their faces while labelling and packing hundreds of books for giveaways each week, telling stories and giving away thousands of books at more than 500 events each year, and inspiring thousands of children to love reading and writing. There is no “typical week” at CLiF, but here’s a look at what we’ve been up to this week, paddling our little feet “like the dickens” under the calm, still pond.

Monday, March 20, 2017

South Royalton School, South Royalton, VT: Year of the Book “Momentum” Grant

This year, we offered the elementary schools that received the Year of the Book grant in 2015-2016 an additional $1,000 in support to keep the momentum of excitement around literacy going in the school after the Year of the Book was over. South Royalton School used their “Momentum” grant to bring author/CLiF Presenter Linda Urban to the school for a fun storytelling presentation.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Lamoille Senior Citizens Center, Morrisville, VT: Community-Building Grant

Geof Hewitt prepares first and third graders to read aloud with their Senior Buddies


Poet Geof Hewitt read to Morristown Elementary School first and third graders, along with their new senior reading buddies to kick off their partnership supported by CLiF’s new Community Building grant. A renowned slam poet and teacher, Geof gave them tips on reading aloud and shared his poems, students gave a musical performance of “Dear Students” (to the tune of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”), “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” (another Beatles’ classic), and “Starfish and Coffee” by Prince, before the seniors’ Meals on Wheels lunch. The reading buddies will read together during the Meals on Wheels lunch the next two weeks.

This partnership is part of CLiF’s new Community Building grant, which encouraged building community connections through reading. The first and third graders at Morristown Elementary School had a preliminary training session with storyteller Simon Brooks last month and chose two new books each to keep (read about it here).





John J. Flynn Elementary School, Burlington, VT: Community-Building Grant


John J. Flynn Elementary School also received a Community Building grant to launch a senior reading buddies program, rekindling a past partnership with the Kindred Healthcare Birchwood Terrace across the street from the school.

CLiF Executive Director Duncan McDougall spoke to Flynn Elementary first graders about how to read aloud with friends and modeled his tips by sharing “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” Librarian Cara Clopton showed the students their new CLiF-donated library books to share with their reading buddies and the little red wagon they’ll fill up with books to bring to the senior center. At the end of the presentation, each first grader was excited to pick out two new books of their own to keep (pictured at top are first graders sharing their new books).

The little red wagon is ready to bring books across the street to read with their Senior Reading Buddies!


Essex Rotary Club, Essex, VT: CLiF in the Community

After our presentation at Flynn Elementary School, Duncan and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Essex Resort & Spa with the Essex Rotary Club, who generously donated $1,000 to CLiF in memory of former CLiF Board Member and Rotarian Phil Kolvoord. Phil’s widow Louise was in attendance to hear Duncan share memories of the many ways Phil helped enrich the lives of young readers and writers. Huge thanks to the Essex Rotary Club, in particular its literacy committee and Penny Pillsbury, who awarded the kind donation. Phil is greatly missed and we appreciated getting to honor him in such a special way.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility, Berlin, NH: Children of Prison Inmates

Duncan and CLiF volunteer David Goodman made the journey to Berlin, NH, to give three parent seminars to inmates about the importance of reading with children and strategies for connecting to the kids in their lives through books. CLiF gives regular parent seminars to inmates at all of our partnering prisons to help strengthen their relationships with their kids through reading. At the end of each seminar, inmates choose new books for each of the children in their lives, and write notes in them (like the one below), and CLiF sends the books home. Learn more about CLiF’s Children of Prison Inmates program on NHPR.

A note from an inmate in a children’s book to be sent home


Miller’s Run School Afterschool Program, Sheffield, VT: At-Risk Children Grant

Author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock was scheduled to lead a storytelling presentation at the Miller’s Run School afterschool program today, but unfortunately, a sore throat took her voice away, so author/illustrator David Martin came to the rescue! David, an experienced CLiF storyteller told stories to students, presented new children’s books for the afterschool program, and let each child pick out two brand new books to take home. Whew! Thanks for saving the day, David.


Maple Avenue Elementary School, Claremont, NH: Year of the Book

Maple Avenue Elementary students show off their new books at a recent giveaway


Storyteller Simon Brooks will share his entertaining folk tales with students and caregivers to celebrate that 80% of Maple Avenue families returned their signed “Read to Me” contracts, pledging to read for twenty minutes together at least twice a week.

Up next week – a Year of the Book book giveaway at Bethlehem Elementary School in Bethlehem, NH, CLiF’s annual Year of the Book conference at Lake Morey Resort, and Caring Canines Therapy Dogs at Lathrop Elementary School in Pittsford, VT as part of their Year of the Book Momentum grant. Those busy CLiF ducks just never stop churning their little legs!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

Subscribe to our Blog