Books Alive! is a fun, educational, and interactive program for students

March 16th, 2013    Author: Administrator    Filed Under: News

Students at Summerside Elementary School perform a dance skit to illustrate a book they read in class. The skit was part of Books Alive! For Kids, a literacy program that targets students in preschool through third grade. The program was funded by grants through Child Focus and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Deondra Means with the Cincinnati Children's Theatre asks Bri Bradford, 4, to talk about a memory she has of when she was younger.

By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

Children at Summerside Elementary School and with Child Focus participated in the first live performance session of Books Alive! for Kids in Clermont County March 12.

The program featured an interactive performance for children based on a book they read in class called “My Mama Had a Dancing Heart.”

Books Alive! for Kids was funded through grants from Child Focus and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

“We’re very excited to kick-off the first of the performances,” Berta Velilla, director of the early learning programs for Child Focus, said about the event.

Books Alive for Kids is a four-time EMMY nominated, national award-winning performance arts literacy program for children that targets preschool through third grade students. The program includes three interactive sessions that focus on creative thinking, writing, reading, art and music education.

Tara Keith, director of marketing and development at Child Focus, said the program helps schools achieve literacy goals including Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements.

“It is an early literacy effort to strengthen literacy at that level,” Keith said about the program.

Kathy Wade, CEO of Learning Through Art, and Deondra Means with the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, hosted the performance, which featured interactive activities, music and dance.

Teachers at Summerside had students read the book and make crafts in the classroom prior to the performance, and students were able to interact with performers in a presentation related to the book.

Wade said the goal with the book, crafts and performance is to make books come alive for children.

The book they read for the March 12 performance, “My Mama Had a Dancing Heart,” was a memoir that featured several seasons of the year.

Deondra Means talked with students about what a memoir was and he talked to them about the seasons of the year.

Children learned basic dance moves and heard music that was created for each different season and put together a dance skit to illustrate spring, summer, fall and winter.

“I liked the dancing and I liked the story part,” Madalyn Hussey, a first grade student at Summerside, said.

Adam Bassiouny, a first grade student, said he also enjoyed the performance.

“I liked the pictures and the dancing,” Bassiouny said.

Wade said they will be having another performance in the county in May focusing on a nutritional book.

For more information about Books Alive! For Kids and other educational programs offered by Learning Through Art, visit, or call (513) 242-6028.

For more information about programs available through the United Way of Greater Cincinnati visit

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