As we were preparing for the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge Blast Off event, an intelligent, impish, enthusiastic face made her way into our hearts. Stacy Sternberg, Communications Coordinator for The Patterson Foundation, created a graphic to help us explain the Five Finger Rule for selecting a book for a child. The star of the graphic was a cheerful African-American girl with a winning smile.
This graphic became pretty popular on social media, earning many likes, loves, and shares. Before too long, it was suggested we name the girl who had been helping us get so much attention. We asked for name suggestions from the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading team, and thanks to Engagement Team member Donna Puhalovich’s clever response, Rita Story’s identity became known.
Another SCGLR Engagement Team member, Kelli Karen Smith, encouraged us to schedule Rita Story for some community events to help encourage a love of reading.
We certainly have grown fond of Rita, but the help she is giving the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is serious business.
Marketing studies show us that characters can help people recognize your brand and remember your message. Rita’s smiling face and enthusiasm for reading help our messages gain attention.
Characters like Rita Story can provide important storytelling opportunities. Rita is able to give tips about reading to children, educators, and parents in an entertaining manner, increasing the likelihood they will be remembered.
Children all over the Suncoast are getting the opportunity to meet Rita Story, pick up some pointers on how to improve reading skills, and maybe even get a Rita Story sticker as a souvenir. The positive feeling Rita engenders will carry over to the act of reading, perhaps even increasing the amount of time a child will spend reading.
Look for Rita Story around the Suncoast, and don’t forget to Read a Story!