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June 11, 2021


Laurie Miller, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Recently, I had the honor of helping put together the Run of Show (think party planning!) for our two summer blast-off events, THIS BOOK IS COOL! and the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge (SSRC). For anyone wondering,” Huh? What are those things?” Here are some cliff notes:

THIS BOOK IS COOL!: In 2020, SCGLR introduced THIS BOOK IS COOL! — a series of 100 webisodes to encourage a love of reading. Thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation, rising pre-K through 3rd-grade students qualifying for free/reduced lunch or attending Title I schools in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties can register to receive 20 free, high-quality books. Each webisode features one of the books, a special guest, a list of vocabulary words, and a corresponding activity.

The Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge. 2021 marks the fifth year of the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge funded by The Patterson Foundation. The Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge is implemented by SCGLR in partnership with local summer camps, businesses, and summer programs, encouraging children to read at least six books at their reading level to reduce the summer slide. 

More than 3,100 children have already registered for THIS BOOK IS COOL! and an additional 5,600 children are estimated to participate in the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge. That means over 8,500 children will be engaged in reading this summer, and that number keeps growing every day!

Needless to say, this makes me very happy. It’s been a very gratifying experience. And that gratitude was amplified with the success of our two Summer Blast-Off events! The excitement to kick off the summer at the events was palpable (even over zoom). We were fortunate to be joined by Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker and television personality, Linda Larsen. Her phenomenal presentation inspired everyone to consciously use their influence to make kids feel seen and heard in a positive way.


“How many seconds a day are you willing to invest to be someone’s hero?” she asked. (Gulp). This concept really resonates with me, but as a busy mom, I also get that this can be challenging to remember when you have a threenager in meltdown city, and all you want to do is hide in the bathroom (speaking for a friend, and that friend is me). Must. Do. Better!

Speaking of, like most people this past year, I’ve put on a couple pounds (and it wasn’t by making and eating homemade sourdough bread). Now that life is coming back to normal, and I have to put on pants again (with buttons, oh no!), it’s been nagging at me that I need to begin a health kick. Tomorrow. The problem is that I’ve been saying I’ll start my health kick tomorrow for the past two months, and it’s just not sticking (unlike the pounds I’ve put on from the coconut shrimp my freezer has grown accustomed to hosting). 

And that’s why I fell in love with an idea shared by Linda at the events – a gratitude shower. Yes, I’d like to have a robust morning routine filled with meditations and yoga, but who’s got the time when my 3-year-old needs spanikopita? And STAT! 

Instead of subtracting things from my life, what if I add them? Why not spend 5-7 minutes thinking of all the things I’m grateful for and why, while in the shower? I’m already in there! It’s an easy habit to remember (particularly when the shower tag is only 8 inches from my face). Plus, it puts me in a sunny mood that spreads – I’ve got plenty of seconds today to be someone’s hero!

Thank you for this gift, Linda and The Patterson Foundation. The pounds may not blast off, but I can take what I learned at the Summer Blast Off events and use them to purposefully and positively impact my life – just by adding in some good stuff. And that’s a health kick I can start. Tomorrow.


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