60 Days 60 Ways

Join us every weekday this summer for fun, easy ways that YOU can help promote literacy and self-expression in our community. You’ll also find plenty of local resources and activities related to education and the arts, many of them completely FREE!

Please help us spread these resources through Facebook and Twitter (#60Days60Ways) and share your ideas for building community literacy!!


#54-60 Learn how comic books and graphic novels are saving the world, one struggling reader at a time!! For many teachers and literacy tutors, comic books are a desperately needed option for engaging struggling or reluctant readers, and some publishers like Toon Books even have lesson plans and suggestions for guided reading online at no cost.

For a passionate and thoughtful analysis of how comic books can be effective tools in schools, take a look at this article by Katie Monnin, Ph.D. and learn more about a new and exciting textbook in the works from the amazing folks at Reading with Pictures.

If you are ready for some great suggestions to use with students from birth to adulthood, check out The Graphic Classroom. This tremendously detailed blog was created by Chris Wilson as a resource for teachers and librarians to help them stock high quality, educational-worthy graphic novels and comics in their classroom or school library.


#53 Check out Science Sundays at Children’s Museum Tucson and get ready to experience physics, optics, and math in a whole new way!! Every Sunday through September 2nd, the whole family can experience an entire day of air-conditioned scientific exploration for just $2 per person.

  • Explore the Investigation Station for a variety of hands-on activities that bring science to life.
  • Enjoy science-y experiments, demonstrations and more with the Museum Discovery Guides and volunteers at 10:30am and 3:30pm.
  • Get scientific with a special weekly guest from 12pm to 3pm

#52 Explore the many wonderful (FREE) story times we have in Tucson for babies, toddlers, school age kids and even families!

One of our favorite story times happens every Friday morning from 10 am to 11 am at Bookmans Speedway. Each week has a different theme and storyteller/musician extraordinaire Nature and guests bring the words to life in a BIG BIG way!! They also provide free snacks for little ones and a themed coloring activity to extend the learning fun.

This week’s story time theme is Outer Space!  So get your listening ears together and get ready to blast off towards literacy. And don’t forget that ALL kids can benefit from Bookmans’ Read 10 Get 1 Free Program to bring home some great free books!!

#51 Learn how storytelling can be used as a tool to help parents with low health literacy levels make informed decisions about back-to-school immunizations.

The role of storytelling in health literacy is explored in an interview with Tammy Pilisuk, an immunization educator with the California Department of Public Health.  She emphasizes that “Immunization has a lot of science involved and it can be very complex information.  Misinformation abounds on the Internet and the popular press.  Being able to break down technical information is really important.” To her that means not only making it easy-to-understand, but relevant and engaging for parents and the general public.

She suggests that one of the most effective ways to convey that important information is through storytelling. Ms. Pilisuk explains that “Real-life stories can be an important teaching tool.  They resonate and leave a lasting impression in a way that abstract information does not.  For example, showing a video of a mother who lost her child to influenza is likely to be much more impactful than sharing abstract statistics.”

As resources for communicating health information, Ms. Pilisuk recommends Neilson Usability Testing as a tool to test draft materials, Andy Goodman’s Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes[i], and the UC Berkeley Health Research for Action Health Communication Tips.

You can read the full interview with Tammy Pilisuk here.

[i] A personal favorite of Tamara McKinney, Reading Seed’s Program Director.

#50 Learn more about Financial Literacy and the resources available in our community to support those who need help. Financial Literacy can be defined as knowledge and understanding about managing money. This knowledge is a tool used to make informed and effective decisions when faced with everyday spending choices like managing debt, paying taxes, getting loans, buying and selling a home, saving for retirement, and balancing a checkbook. Financial literacy is important to our community and can affect our success as a neighborhood, a city, a state, and so on.

The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is working to promote financial literacy for youth and adults through a variety of partnerships. Click here to learn more.

#49 Head to Loft Cinema for the 6th annual Tucson International Children’s Film Festival! Each morning, children and their parents can experience some of the best kid-friendly films of all-time, along with fun games, hands-on activities, great giveaways, tons-o-popcorn and crazy surprises. And best of all, it’s FREE! Click here for more information and to view a full list of the great movies being featured this year.

#48 Play a game of Bananagrams or Scrabble with family or friends. Younger kids can play on a team with older kids or parents and everyone benefits from time spent together on these mind and vocabulary sharpening activities that are also FUN!!

#47 View this absolutely fantastic video (made by library lover Leia and her mom) and then make your own for Pima County Public Library’s Summer Reading program!!

#46 Head down to Hotel Congress on Thursday, July 19th for an evening of literary magic and music with Harry and the Potters!! Several of our favorite local businesses and organizations will also be there offering great book themed fun.

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange will have a photo booth with costumed characters and themed merchandise, 9 Queens is hosting Wizards Chess, and Pima County Public Library will be there along with Seven Cups helping to divine the future with tea leaf readings!! Don’t miss the FREE, family-friendly event!

#45 Talk to your kids or your students about all the great places there are to read. A great book doesn’t have to wait for a chair or bed to be enjoyed; this summer celebrate the fact that a great book can go with you ANYWHERE!

#44 Join Literacy Connects for a Volunteer Fair & Back to School Celebration! Come see what Literacy Connects is all about and learn how YOU can help bring literacy to life. Stop by the main Literacy Connects office on Saturday, August 11th anytime between 9 am to Noon for a fun-filled 45 minute info session.

#33-43 Learn about the impact of “summer learning loss” on the achievement gap and then explore some great local ways to keep the young people in your life engaged and thinking through the hot summer months. Pima County Public Library offers a ton of fun, free (and educational!) activities for kids of all ages at their locations. Click here for a complete list of story times, summer reading activities, teen events, adult classes and more

Children’s Museum Tucson offers some incredible exhibits and learning activities for younger kids, including a their interactive Science Sundays when admission is just $2 and the whole family can enjoy science-y experiments, demonstrations and more with the Museum Discovery Guides and volunteers from 10:30am to 3:30pm.  And don’t miss their newest exhibit, Investigation Station, for a variety of hands-on activities that make physics, optics, and math more fun than fireworks!

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange offers great family events with a monthly theme throughout the year as well as free weekly Summer Kids Events. This coming week there will be a great educational presentation at Bookmans Ina, Bookmans Speedway and Bookmans Grant by the Desert Museum. And if you’ve never been to a Music Hour with Nature at Bookmans Speedway you are missing out!! For a quick peek at what makes this music hour special, check out this great video (title song performed by Nature himself!).

And if you’re looking for great fun in the cool quite of home, you can’t go wrong with Arizona Public Media’s Education website! With hundreds of games, videos and resources, kids ages 3-6 can enjoy PBS Kids while older kids in grades 2-4 can explore more advanced options on PBS Kids Go! – and parents, grandparents and other caretakers can feel good knowing that they are learning while they are playing!!

#32 Join UA Bookstores each month for an interactive storybook character hour!! As part of the W.A.L.K. (Wildcats Advocating Literacy & Knowledge) program, the University of Arizona Bookstores offer FREE monthly story hours and activities at the UA Student Union AND at Park Place Mall.

#31 Bring literacy to life and plan a book-themed party. Summer is a season filled with backyard barbeques and birthday parties, so why not bring a little literary love into the mix and give your next party a fun-filled book theme? There are tons of great resources out there with ideas on themed food, drinks, decorations, party favors, games and more.

PBS Parents offers a nice range of themes for younger kids featuring popular book-based shows like Arthur, Clifford, and Curious George. For older kids, check out this awesome party concept based on the Percy Jackson book series put together by Imagination Soup or a Darth Paper Strikes Back party with Yoda Soda and origami activities. For even more book-themed party ideas click here.

#30 Take the whole family on a “Where’s Waldo” adventure around 4th Avenue and Downtown Tucson! Waldo is hiding in 20 different 4thAvenue and Downtown locations during the month of July and your mission is to find him!! (Hint: He is only 6″ tall.) Pick up a search list at Antigone Books (411 N. 4th Ave) or the children’s section of the Main Library (101 N. Stone Ave.) and then get busy searching. When you have spotted Waldo in at least 15 locations, turn in your cards at Antigone Books to get a Waldo button (while supplies last) and be entered in a drawing for lots of great prizes. Waldo fans of all ages are welcome to play.

#29 Help celebrate Arizona’s Centennial by submitting Your Arizona Story today. Do you have a timeless Arizona Story you want to leave behind for future generations? What about Arizona  do you cherish?  What are your hopes for its future? The Arizona Centennial Commission is looking for great stories to publish on their website, and your story could be one. For more information and ideas, take a look at the Arizona Stories Toolkit  or click here to submit your story.

#28 Take part in a national conversation about books and identity! The Library of Congress created a list of 88 books written by Americans for an exhibition of “Books That Shaped America” and they want your input and ideas for additional titles.

#27 Help Literacy Connects win a FREE full page ad in the Arizona Daily Star. With over 90% of our program funding coming from private sources, the more the community knows about and supports Literacy Connects the more we can do to support literacy in Tucson and Southern Arizona! Click here for more details.

#26 Join Habitat for Humanity, Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, Boys & Girls Club of Tucson, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, and C-Core Tucson for an evening of fun activities, free food, and information at the Roy Drachman Clubhouse!! This neighborhood party is perfect for the whole family and is a great opportunity to learn more about FREE weatherization services, rehab and more being offered by Habitat.

#25 Visit a local museum and immerse yourself in history, culture, science, art and even nature! Tucson is home to dozens of world-class museums for every age and interest, all of which can provide a fun, educational and air-conditioned afternoon for the whole family. Click here for a list of Tucson area museums and attractions!!

#24 Nominate a teacher in need (it could be YOU!) for a Reading Seed Books for Teachers Award!! Whether you’re a first year teacher or have recently had to change (or add) grades, Reading Seed understand that teachers need books for the classroom!!  Each month of the school year, August through May, Reading Seed selects one lucky elementary school teacher to receive our Books for Teachers Award of 250 books for classroom use.

Reading Seed’s Books for Teachers Award is available to any elementary teacher currently working at a public or charter school in Pima County.We’re always taking applications, and you can nominate yourself or someone you know who needs new books. For details and to complete an application, please click here.

#23 Get personalized “Good Reads” recommendations from the literary experts at Pima County Public Library. Just go to http://www.library.pima.gov/contact/read.php and tell them about 3 favorite authors, titles, or types of stories you like to read, and they’ll send you an email with several custom selected books to try!! This is a great, free resource for our community and a wonderful way to find new authors or titles to love.

#22 Show your support for literacy in Southern Arizona – take the Literacy Pledge today!! If you have 2 minutes, you can help Literacy Connects demonstrate to local and national decision-makers that Tucson values and supports literacy. There is no cost or commitment associated with the Literacy Pledge, so please help us take a stand for quality education for every individual in our community!!

#21 Improve you understanding of health literacy and its impact on our community! The Pima County Health Department defines health literacy as “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Studies show that nearly 9 out of 10 adults have trouble understanding most health information and therefore cannot make informed, thoughtful decisions about their daily health needs.

In addition to impacting the overall well-being and strength of our community, low health literacy is a significant cost burden on healthcare systems, with some estimates indicating the annual health care costs for individuals with low literacy skills are four times higher than those with higher literacy skills. Click here for more information.

#20 Catch up on your reading list and maybe tackle that classic book or bestseller you haven’t had a chance to read. This summer, make time to celebrate your own literacy – find a comfy air-conditioned spot, grab some iced tea or lemonade, and let the world of books take you away! Looking for ideas? Check out this list of 30 books everyone should read or these 15 great summer reads handpicked by indie booksellers.

#19 Join 9 Queens for free, fun chess events perfect for the whole family! Learning to play a new game (especially one that requires serious strategy like chess) is a great way to build critical thinking skills, academic performance, and of course have fun!! 9 Queens is an incredible organization dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through chess by making the game fun, exciting, and accessible.

Local chess queen (and 9 Queens co-founder) Jean Hoffman works with students, teachers, administrators, businesses and organizations to promote and support chess education throughout our community. 9 Queens hosts regular events at  Bookmans‘ Tucson locations and the Pima County Public Library, so there are lots of opportunities to get involved. For more information and to see upcoming 9 Queens events near you, click here.

#18 Expand your cultural literacy this Saturday at the Tucson World RefugeeFEST!! The festivities begin at 2 pm with fun, educational activities for the whole family. With A-Z Kids Corner activities, a Global Village filled with food & culture exhibits, vendors and musical performances, and even a special “Tucson’s Got Talent Show,” this event is a don’t miss celebration of diversity and community. Click here for more details.

“The Tucson World RefugeeFEST is all about connection–between the community, the refugees, and the diverse set of cultures we have here in Tucson. Since soccer is a language we all speak, why not play? Since food, music & dance is something we all love, why not eat, play & move? Being able to find our common ground together, and celebrate it is what RefugeeFEST is all about.”

#17 Civic engagement is vital to a literate community, so this summer encourage youth to get connected to a cause they believe in and take action!!  If you’re looking for ideas to help them get started, check out DoSomething.org (one of the largest organizations in the US for teens dedicated to social change) or contact Volunteer Southern Arizona for a list of current youth volunteer opportunities.

#16 Explore the possibility of becoming a tutor with Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, and work with adults in need of basic literacy and English skills. Nearly 1 in 5 adults in Arizona are functionally illiterate. That is, they can’t read, write, or speak English well enough to read instructions, fill out an application, or interview for a job.

Literacy Volunteers of Tucson is working to change that reality and LVT volunteers are the heart and soul of those programs. As a LVT tutor, you will be helping someone to improve his or her life – and enriching yours at the same time. Register for a New Volunteer Orientation on Tuesday, June 26th to learn about the mission, impact, and volunteer opportunities of Literacy Connects adult literacy programs. (#16 of 60Days60Ways)

#15 Learn to play a musical instrument. Recent research suggests that learning to play an instrument can benefit a child’s reading age and brain development. Adults can also benefit, because learning a new skill helps keep the mind alert and active (and music helps reduce stress too!!). Click here to learn more.

#14 Become a Reading Seed Reading Coach and help children in Pima County learn to read! In Pima County, over 40% of fourth grade students are reading below grade level. Reading Seed trains volunteer Reading Coaches to work with students in 1st through 3rd grade who are reading below grade level. Each student receives 30 minutes of one-on-one mentoring and support every week.

Reading Coaches do not need any prior experience as an educator or tutor, and Reading Seed provides free professional development, books and materials to support their coaches. Click here for more information or to register for one of the upcoming summer trainings.

#13 Head to the TMC Marshall Conference Center on Saturday, June 16th for a Star Wars themed Dad Read-In in honor of Father’s Day!! Bring a favorite book to read, and join County Supervisor Ray Carroll and the Dune Garrison of the 501st Legion (Star Wars characters in full regale) as they share the power of reading. There will be other fun activities and light snacks for everyone.

#12 Take the kids downtown to the amazing (and air conditioned!!) Children’s Museum Tucson for Wee Play, a wonderful early childhood literacy event that happens every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday!! Each week features a new book and themed activity to engage and entertain young minds.

#11 Planning a family trip this summer? Read books about your vacation destination beforehand or take a few with you on the road. Learning about the history, culture or unique aspects of a new place is a great way to keep kids engaged while they count down the days! Reading Is Fundamental has some wonderful regional and international book lists that you can use for ideas and inspiration.

#10 Visit Reading Rockets new summer website, www.StartwithaBook.org, and enjoy well-organized lists of books, hands-on activities, parent tips, and more for a season of continuous fun & learning. This amazing website offers 24 kid-friendly themes to explore – from bugs to weather, fairytales to art history, superheroes to science, and much more!!

#9 Attend an informative, no obligation Literacy Briefing on Wednesday, June 27th to learn more about literacy and its impact on our community. At the briefing, you’ll receive an overview of the internal programs of Literacy Connects, as well as our broader efforts to create sustainable change. Briefings are held at lunchtime the 4th Wednesday of every month, as well as some Saturday mornings, at our main office located at 2850 E. Speedway. A light lunch is provided; please call 520-882-8006 to reserve your spot today!!

#8 Get crafty and make your own “Altered Book” with Pima County Public Library! This wonderful exercise in literacy and creativity is presented by Marge Pellegrino at Valencia Library on Monday, June 11th from 1-4 pm. Teens will start with a published book and then create & recreate to make it their own. Choose from a variety of writing and visual prompts and then write, tear, sew, and glue to create a book like no other. Space is limited! Call 594-5390 to register.

#7 Head to 2nd Saturdays Downtown this weekend for an evening of local culture, music and science!! “Mars and Beyond: The Search for Life on Other Planets,” the current exhibit at Science Downtown, highlights the University of Arizona’s role in two NASA missions: the 2008 experiments performed by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander and images from the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is still producing incredible photos of our planetary neighbor. The exhibit will be open for your educational enjoyment from 5 to 9 pm on Saturday evening.

#6 Come to the Quality Education and Jobs Open House this Saturday, June 9th from 10 am to 2 pm, and learn more about this important voter initiative. The Quality Education and Jobs Act, which renews the one-cent sales tax, will provide dedicated education funding linked to performance and accountability for students of all ages and prevent legislators from cutting K-12 funding.  It will strengthen Arizona’s economy by equipping children to succeed in the classroom, ensuring an educated workforce and creating jobs. Click here for more information on the Quality Education and Jobs Act and to learn how you can get involved.

#5 Take to Twitter on Thursday, June 7th and join great literacy-minded organizations and individuals for a conversation about summer reading. The New York Times Learning Network is encouraging people of all ages to post their lists, recommendations, thoughts and ideas with the hashtag #summerreading. You can share:

  • What you want to read — or have to read — this summer
  • Wonderful, or awful, memories of summer reading
  • Quotes about summer reading, or about reading in general
  • Book recommendations for others
  • Tips for getting students to read in the summer
  • Links to booklists, contests and other resources
  • Summer book-club ideas
  • Visuals! Summer-book photos might be worth 1,000 words…
  • Site-specific recommendations: best beach books, camping books, car-trip audio books, family-reunion books, etc.
  • Best places for summer reading, or the best things to eat and drink while summer reading (lemonade anyone?)

Never used Twitter? Follow the steps below and you’ll soon be part of a whole new world of communication and information (building your tech literacy skills along the way!).

1. Join Twitter. Be sure to choose a fun (not too long) name that reflects your interests, hobbies or professional focus.

2. Add your messages one at a time, each with #summerreading posted somewhere in your sentence. For example, “I can’t wait to start my #summerreading. Just me , my book and a cold glass of lemonade.” Remember to keep your post to 140 characters or less.

3. Wait a few seconds and you’ll see your message appear in the #summerreading stream, along with the messages of everyone else who added #summerreading to what they wrote. From there you can follow the conversation and reply to or “retweet” interesting messages, or start following users whose posts you like.

#4 Get involved with an education or literacy advocacy group. The future of community literacy lies in the level of commitment that public officials, local businesses and dedicated individuals make to fund and support literacy programs. Your voice can impact that level of commitment!

Groups like Arizona Education Network, Voices for Education, Tucson Values Teachers, Expect More Arizona,The National Coalition for Literacy, Support Adult Basic EducationProLiteracy and Children’s Action Alliance are working to increase the literacy level of our community and create a better future for everyone in Tucson and Southern Arizona.

#3 Join a book club to explore new interests and ideas, or to meet others who share your passions!! From fiction to non-fiction, mystery to sci-fi, Pima County Public Library has 18 different adult book clubs available throughout Pima County, as well as some specifically for teens. Check out their list of scheduled book clubs to find one near you, or get inspiration for starting your own book club this summer!

#2 Head to your local Bookmans Entertainment Exchange for a full summer of FREE events, story times and music hours for kids of all ages! While you’re there be sure to sign up for the Bookmans Kids Club or 1317 discount programs, and take advantage of their Read 10 Get 1 Free program to help stock up on all those new book series.

Kids ages 0-12 can join Bookmans Kids Club for a 10% discount and $10 gift certificate on their birthday, and teens ages 13-17 can join 1317 for a 15% discount and a $15 gift certificate each year.

Bookmans’ Read 10 Get 1 Free program offers kids a chance to exchange 10 short book reports (or drawings for little ones) for a gift certificate to use on new books, comic books or magazines!! The report just has to include:

* Your name and age
* The title and author of the book
* Why you liked or disliked the book

Check out Bookmans’ Events Calendar for the dates and times of events happening this summer at your favorite store.

#1 Keep kids engaged in learning and reading (and avoid the dreaded “summer slide”) by helping them find a new book series they love and then challenge them to finish the series before the summer ends. Make sure there are plenty of choices available and work together to find books that they WANT to read; summer reading is a great time to indulge in FUN reading for kids and grown-ups!!

Why a book series you ask? Because once kids find a book they love that is part of a series, it’s hard to keep them away. The characters become familiar friends and you HAVE to find out what happens next. Series are also great for beginning or struggling readers because authors tends to use a consistent vocabulary and setting from book to book, and when there are fewer elements or new words to figure out it is easier to focus on (and enjoy!) the story.

Click here to a great starter list of book series for kids three and up!