Tips for getting your kids interested in reading

February 10th, 2010

A child’s experience reading is directly related to his or her attitude towards reading. Here are a few suggestions for making your child/student’s reading experiences positive ones:

1. Choose books that are on topics the children are interested in. You should start out with a wide variety of subject matter and genres. This collection can be narrowed down as your children develop their interests.

2. It is always good to start with books that are predictable and has vivid pictures. These can help children build confidence. If reading is too difficult you may lose the opportunity to develop an avid reader.

3. Giving positive feedback from parents, teachers, and peers is one of the best ways to build a child’s confidence. This positive attitude is what we are looking for in our young readers. This confidence will help the child expand their reading horizons and become avid readers.

As children grow older, the amount of time they read usually decreases. This is due to more responsibilities, more social events, and changes in interest. It is a good idea to help your children build good reading habits. This will help them make time in their days for reading as they grow older and become more involved in other tasks.

So, get started now by picking up a variety of books at reading levels that meet those of your children. Let the collection build based on your children’s interests and increase the reading level as they become stronger readers. Please email us for suggestions.

Visit MonkeyReader.com to find books to read together. We have over a million selections from which to choose!

Building a great comedy library part 3 by Andrew Gilmore

September 25th, 2009

 Hi again, folks! I’m covering something a little different for this month’s entry. While

it may not be categorized as comedy the same way as the Marx Brothers movies or

an episode of “The Office”, there’s no denying that the subject of this month’s blog

is as inventive, worthwhile and funny as anything else one could add to a comedy

library. I am talking about the good old classic Looney Tunes cartoons!

 

 It’s always been my contention that the Looney Tunes shorts produced by Warner

Brothers’ animation department between 1930 and 1969 are just as well-crafted

and imaginative and genuinely funny as anything being done in live action in the

same time period. You can learn just as much about great comic timing and pithy

gag structure from a Daffy Duck short than from any Preston Sturges or George

Cukor film. It’s no coincidence that a documentary about the work of animation

director Chuck Jones, who directed many of the classic cartoons, featured

comments from Robin Williams, or that Dave Chappelle once sited Bugs Bunny as one of his major comedic influences.

 

 I should say out front that there is an important reason I’m covering the Looney

Tunes this month, and that is that I will soon be teaching my own night school

course about the history of Warner Brothers cartoons! Unfortunately, I only have two students so far, so if you are interested in learning more after reading what I have to say, please contact me at gilmoreap@yahoo.com or Mount Airy Learning Tree at info@mtairylearningtree.org. My course will take place from 6:30 to 9 on

Wednesday nights for seven weeks beginning October 7th. That’s only a little less

than two weeks, so if you would like to enroll, please hurry!

 

While I’m plugging my course, I should also throw in another plug and tell you that

many of the classic Warner cartoons are available at monkeyreader.com on the

wonderful Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets.

 

 I would write more, but the deadline for my course meant that I had to publish this

as soon as possible. Tune in next month for something more detailed!

 

Building a great comedy library part 2, by Andrew Gilmore

August 19th, 2009

Hi again, folks! It’s been a long time, but I finally managed to make a return engagement with this second blog. I decided to do a long one this time, so bear with me.

 

Aside from the comedy material itself, another handy thing to have in your comedy library is some of the many wonderful books on the subject by historians and biographers.

In this entry, I’m going to reccomend one of the most interesting historical books on the subject of comedy out there, Gerald Nachman’s “Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s”, published in 2003. Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print and therefore not available from monkeyreader.com, which I only found out after writing this review(!). However, once you’ve read this blog, i’m sure you can find some great books and movies at monkeyreader.com to further explore the great rebel comedians of this era.

 

In it, Nachman examines the forerunners of modern stand-up comedy- the hugely influential group of performers who surfaced in the comedy “revolution” that took place between 1953 and 1965. These were not your grandfather’s comics who told corny jokes and did vaudevillian shtik. These were the young comics who dared to do something different by using their humor to examine the real social and political issues of the time, or at the very least to perform styles of joke-telling which hadn’t been done before.

 

The comedians who preceded them, like Bob Hope and Milton Berle, may have been funny, but rarely talked about anything more serious than their mother-in-laws. Any comedian in the past fifty years who ever dared talk seriously about politics, honestly examine their personal lives, or even use a four-letter word on stage owes it all to the pioneering group Nachman examines. Nachman was able to personally interview not only many of the comics themselves, but colleagues, agents- even some of the “old school” pre-revolution comics who were phased out by the new kids- and so was able to get the inside stories, providing a fascinating, detailed and informative read. Let’s take a closer look at the performers Nachman writes about in roughly chronological order.

 

The true father of the comedy revolution was a young Canadian named Mort Sahl. While other comedians wore tuxedos and told polished one-liners, Sahl wore a red turtleneck and performed stream-of-consciousness material with only the day’s headlines as his script. While Bob Hope was famous for his political humor a decade earlier, his jokes were glib wisecracks which hardly ever took a real political stance. Sahl was the first comedian to truly satirize politics and politicians onstage with an acid tongue and a headstrong iconoclasm. Discussing politics in comedy may be nothing new now in this age of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” (shows which Sahl himself has gone on record as disliking, by the way), but bear in mind that, in the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War and the McCarhy “witch hunts”, expressing political views publicly, especially with the venom with which Sahl did, was truly dangerous. When Sahl joked about a McCarthy union suit that comes with a flap that covers the mouth, he was cutting much closer to the truth than most people at the time would have admitted. The great thing about Sahl, however, aside from his wit and innovation, was that he would attack both sides equally rather than taking a biased stance on one or the other. His catchphrase, “is there any group here I haven’t offended?”, just about sums it up.

 

Nachman next covers Sid Caesar, who, though his humor and style can certainly be said to be rooted in vaudeville, had an intelligence and sophistication which set it apart. Parodies of foreign films at a time when few Americans had seen any, or setting a pantomime card game to the music of Beethoven’s Fifth, was not exactly the typical shtik you would find most comedians doing at the time. However, unlike Sahl, Caesar was not really out to prove anything. “We didn’t know we were innovative,” Caesar is quoted as saying, “we were just looking for new material.”

 

Nachman then covers Tom Lehrer, the Harvard math major who wrote satiric songs for fun. Musical satire had existed before, but never with the delirious and occasionally twisted wit of Lehrer. His career was brief, by his own choice- only three albums consisting of around forty songs. He has been known to be extremely reclusive (to the point that he enjoys circulating rumors of his own death) and has only done a small handful of public performances in the past forty years, simply because he was never very devoted to a show biz career and quit when he lost interest in it. Nevertheless, Lehrer’s oeuvre was certainly innovative at the time if not downright controversial. He would proudly quote his own worst reviews in concert, such as “Mr. Lehrer’s muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.” It is rather telling that on his live album “Tom Lehrer Revisited”, despite the great humor of his songs, there is more coughing, occasional tittering and polite applause than laughter. The audiences on his other live albums are much more forthcoming in their amusement, so clearly there were some people hip enough to get it and others who just considered it odd, and indeed, tasteless. Despite which, he stands alone today as a unique, clever and wickedly funny performer.

 

Next comes the inimitable Steve Allen. Again, Allen’s humor may seem silly and vaudevillian, but on his late-night shows, his jazz-tinged hipness, quick wit and zany willingness to experiment with funny ideas paved the way for David Letterman and Conan O’Brien a generation later.

 

Nachman next covers Stan Freberg, a pioneer in the field of studio comedy records, who parodied the popular singers and TV shows of the day. Although much of his humor, though pointed, was essentially harmless, let us not forget that he could at times be just as edgy a satirist as Lehrer or Sahl. His targets included the commercialization of Christmas and the hypocrisy of the advertising world in “Green Chri$tma$”, and even McCarthyism in “Point Of Order”, both of which nearly went unreleased.

 

Next is an all-too-brief chapter on Ernie Kovacs, one of the pioneers of television comedy. While Sid Caesar presented somewhat pre-revolution humor with an intellectual bent, Kovacs was purely a product of the new school, and, with the possible exception of Buster Keaton, owed nothing to anyone who came before him. His surreal, experimental television shows broke all the rules simply because his medium of choice had so few rules established at the time. Television in the 1950s was uncharted territory, and so he drew his own map. Kovacs was truly ahead of his time, and who knows what he could have gone on to accomplish had he not died in a car accident in 1962 at the age of 36?

 

One of the pioneering female comics, Phyllis Diller, comes next. Female comics existed before Diller, but mostly in the form of comics like Belle Barth who told dirty jokes to small audiences after hours, and whose “party records” were sold strictly under-the-counter in the ‘50s. Diller was among the first female comics to gain mainstream acceptance. But breaking the gender barrier is not the only reason Nachman includes Diller in his book of rebels. Diller’s humor was still a long way from vaudeville, as from her unforgettable laugh to her wild costumes, she had a zany style all her own.

 

The next chapter is appropriately named “The Wild Child”, and is about one of the undeniable innovators in modern comedy, Jonathan Winters. Winters’ wild improvisations complete with character voices and vocal sound effects, made him truly unlike anything that had ever been seen before, or even since, with the exception of his acknowledged disciple Robin Williams. Even George Burns told Winters, “No one can ever steal your act, because no one else could ever do it.”

 

Nachman then focuses on radio with a trio of satirists, Jean Shepard and the team of Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding. Shepard’s character-based, observational humor and Bob and Ray’s subtle Absurdist satire of human nature, again, set them apart from the “Fibber McGee and Molly”s or “Duffy’s Tavern”s of an earlier radio era.

 

After that, Nachman delves into some of the talent nurtured by the legendary Second City, which at that time was just starting out, and paved the way for many great comic talents to come. Shelley Berman and the team of Nichols & May are covered in the next two chapters. Berman was revolutionary not only in his subject matter, but even his technique. No comedian before Berman had delved into psychological angst the way he did. His monologs were observational and yet edgy and often dark, as he examined the neuroses of everyday life with the honest exasperation of a tortured soul. Whether his onstage persona in any way mirrored his real-life anxieties is difficult to say, but onstage Berman delved into a sort of dark humor that had never been done before. In at least one respect, Berman remains ahead of his time even today. Being theater-trained, Berman didn’t really address the audience in the same way typical comedians do. His monologs were tightly-scripted theatrical pieces in which he certainly was aware that he was addressing an audience, but was usually not really interacting with or engaging them directly, making Berman’s “stand-up comedy as theater” remain unique.

 

The team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May were at the Second City at the same time as Berman, and in fact Berman revealed to Nachman that he had at one point wanted the three of them to team up as a comedy trio. But Nichols and May went on to great if short-lived success as a duo, creating inspired, often topical improvised satire. Sadly, after only a few brief years, a smash Broadway revue and four albums together, their onstage relationship became strained and they split up. Nichols of course has gone on to great success as a film and Broadway director, while May has had only a few successful solo projects and has not granted an interview in decades.

 

An interesting departure occurs in the case of Nachman’s next subject, Bob Newhart. Newhart was certainly satirical, but in a much less vicious way than Sahl, Lehrer, etc. While most of the revolution comics were called “sick comics” by the press, Newhart simply poked gentle fun at human foibles. He certainly was influential and innovative, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he wasn’t out to attack anyone. His uniquely clever humor and his telephone-monolog format (which Berman also used extensively) made him a far cry from the old-school one-liner comics, and yet there wasn’t anything “dangerous” or “sick” about Newhart.

 

But there was a lot which was dangerous and “sick” about the next comedian Nachman writes about. Lenny Bruce’s influence, innovation, and legend are so extensive that his is the longest chapter in the entire book at well over 40 pages. Bruce began doing shtik in burlesque houses before working his way up to the legendary hungry i nightclub (where most of the revolution comics started) in the late ‘50s. He is mainly remembered today for being the first comic who dared to use dirty words on stage, but there is infinitely more to Bruce’s material than that. Indeed, if one listens to his recordings, one doesn’t hear the gratuitous and incessant flow of swearing that many modern comics use. Bruce really used swearing for emphasis, and, despite using some words which are certainly high on the profanity scale, he very rarely actually used the F word on stage.

 

It was his language that earned Bruce such notoriety, to the point that he actually spent time in prison for using “obscene” language onstage, an unthinkable occurence today. Many comedians today take his linguistic trailblazing as their right to use four-letter words onstage even when devoid of actual purpose, but unlike most of those contemporary comics, Bruce’s act was also filled with intelligence, honesty, thought, and genuine humor. What made Bruce unique was that he was one of the first comedians whose attitude was essentially “here’s what’s on my mind, and I’m going to share it with you and express myself, and hopefully some of it will be funny”, rather than simply telling jokes. Honest expression of his thoughts and feelings took prevalence over getting cheap laughs. Nachman paints a vivid and heartbreaking picture of the notorious tragedy of the later part of Bruce’s life, when he had been through one obscenity trial too many and could only legally get bookings exclusively in California. He struggled to the very end to prove that what he was doing was socially valid and that he was misunderstood and mistreated by the law, to the point that he actually would read his court transcripts onstage in desperate attempts to justify himself and find someone who understood him and would listen. If any comedian ever truly gave his life for his art, it was Lenny Bruce, as he was continuing to pour over law books practically to the day he died in 1967. In lieu of all this, it seems truly unfair that Bruce is remembered simply as the first “dirty comic” and not for the truly pioneering, talented, intelligent, and yes, funny performer he was.

 

After an unfortunately brief chapter on pioneering black comic Godfrey Cambridge, the next chapter tackles a duo who accomplished even greater satiric heights after what Nachman considers the end of the revolution (1965) than they did during it, namely the Smothers Brothers. While their poking fun at the ‘60s folk-singing craze and seemingly improvised banter was different, their legendary variety show in the late ‘60s was what marked them as wickedly subversive political satirists, and their trials and tribulations with the CBS executives are duly recounted by Nachman.

 

The anything-for-a-laugh Mel Brooks is covered next in a brief chapter describing his rise from borscht belt tummler to writer for Sid Caesar to, of course, movie director.

 

The most pointedly satirical of the revolution’s black comics, Dick Gregory, is the next subject. While Gregory is more famous now for his role as a political activist (the cause of his retirement from comedy), his contributions to comedy were quite significant. Gregory was something of a black Mort Sahl, taking risks by talking openly and with a sharp wit about the civil rights movement, paving the way for Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle and many others.

 

Nachman’s next chapter contains brief summaries of three different careers grouped by a similar talent. While doing impressions of famous people goes back at least to vaudeville, the invention of the comedy LP during the revolution gave rise to a new breed of impressionists. Of the three Nachman talks about, Vaughn Meader is perhaps the most notorious. Meader’s “First Family” album, a million-seller which is still a constant presence in thrift stores to this day, was a novelty- a collection of aural revue sketches centering around Meader’s impression of then-President Kennedy. While the novelty of Meader’s impression may have worn out its welcome anyway, the careers of both Kennedy and his impersonator were cut short for obvious reasons in 1963. (Nachman notes that Lenny Bruce had a show to do that infamous evening and that his first words onstage were, “Phew- Vaughn Meader is screwed!”) Meader’s own story is nearly as tragic- the death of the man he had become famous parodying was so personally devastating to Meader that he drank himself into a stupor that night, then began experimenting with LSD and faded into obscurity living a hippie lifestyle in Arizona. While he did make a few post-Kennedy albums, some of them quite good, he never overcame his one-hit wonder status.

 

The other impressionists Nachman talks about are less well-known and comparatively less interesting, though by no means less talented in their field. David Frye spent years doing his Nixon impression on a series of LPs, while Will Jordan became most famous for his cartoony parody of Ed Sullivan. Jordan’s case is particularly interesting- a gifted impressionist whose portrayals were often frighteningly accurate both visually and vocally, if his quotes in the book are anything to go by, he spent much of his interview with Nachman expressing his excessive bitterness about how much of his act, including some original characters, he feels was stolen by other comics who became more famous. The fading of Jordan’s career seems to owe more to the man’s own ego than anything else.

 

Many of you may only know Woody Allen through his movie work, but his stand-up career was equally noteworthy. Allen would almost apologetically mumble his jokes onstage, again a far cry from the polished boisterousness of Henny Youngman or Milton Berle, to say nothing of the fact that Youngman or Berle certainly never used Sartre or Joyce as a punchline. The reason Allen’s career as a stand-up was so brief is very simple: being onstage scared the living hell out of him, and he wanted to move on as quickly as possible. In spite of that, the three albums Allen recorded are a testament to his brilliant comic writing, a skill which was only heightened by his movie experience until he became the legend he is today.

 

Another of the revolution comics who went on to enormous fame later on in his career was also one of the pioneering black comics, a man by the name of William H. Cosby. Again, not only was he one of the earliest to break the racial barrier, but his storytelling style was another of the comedy revolution’s many performance innovations. “I’ve always wanted my act to get the same reaction as when people are listening to me at the dinner table,” he is quoted as saying. While Sahl pioneered the more intimate and casual performance style, Cosby certainly perfected it with his anecdotal monologs which were not only funny but wonderfully crafted.

 

The final revolution comic discussed is another pioneering female comic, Joan Rivers. While Diller told zany, sometimes surreal one-liners, it was really Rivers who created the role of the modern female comic, talking about her personal problems and whatever else she felt like talking about with a sense of anger at the world’s injustices, which, like Sahl’s wry cynicism and Berman’s neurotic agonizing, was a distinct attitude which was a far cry from the homogenized cheerfulness of the vaudeville comics. That, perhaps, sums up the ultimate contribution of the revolution to comedy as a whole: performers with specific individual attitudes based on honest expression of who they were and what they believed in.

 

To sum up, the revolution was a fascinating period in both social and comedy history, and Nachman writes about it with insight, intelligence, and remarkable detail. If I haven’t already bored you on the subject by going into so much detail myself, I heartily reccomend that you go to monkeyreader.com and have some fun by adding the work of these great artists to your comedy library.

Summer Reading Tips from Captain Monkey Reader

July 30th, 2009

Now that we are into summer, MonkeyReader.com thought it would be helpful to give you some ideas to get your children reading the books on their summer reading lists. Here are our Top Ten Ideas to help you get your child into reading:

1. Make sure that you have a wide selection of books readily available. This includes having a wide variety of subject matter, genres, and books of different reading levels. Place them throughout the house and make them readily available.

2. Set aside reading times throughout the day and not just at bedtime. Children are more apt to read if other family members adhere to the reading times and are reading during that same time. This provides the opportunity for children to ask questions about what they are reading and can help them get past portions of their books that might hold them back.

3. Share the reading with your child. Have them read aloud and take turns reading to one another. This interaction is very successful with most children and you can increase their reading and reduce the amount that you read to them over a period of time.

4. Go to a library, coffee shop, or park and read. Finding different spots to read can be fun and creates a wide variety of atmospheres that will help your child adjust to reading almost anywhere. During the summer, a pool might be the perfect place to get 20 to 30 minutes of reading in, if not more!

5. Let your child choose what they will read. If they have specific books that have to be read for school, let them intersperse that reading with books that they are truly interested in. Don’t get too upset if they choose something that you don’t like. As long as it is appropriate, let them read whatever they choose.

6. Use books on tape (or CD) to read along with, if your child is struggling with the reading. Some summer reading lists contain books that may not interest your child, but they may be mandated by your school. Audio books are great ways to read along, and they provide voices and increase interest for books that may otherwise seem boring or complicated for a child.

7. Have discussions about the book your child is reading. Show an interest and ask questions about the main characters, settings, and plot. This will not only be a way to ensure that your child is reading, but can make the process more enjoyable, and it provides your child with an opportunity to ask quesions regarding the story.

8. Provide a bookmark with room to write down words that your child might not fully know the meaning of, so he or she can look them up or ask about them later. This will not only help your child make it through the book, but can increase his or her vocabulary, as well.

9. Find your child’s niche. Provide opportunities for your child to read books on subjects he or she truly enjoys and are part of his or her everyday life. You might be surprised what you discover and can open the door for your child to make many discoveries.

10. Keep reading FUN! It is better to find ways to get your child to read than it is to make it a daily chore. Plan things that your child enjoys around the reading. Travel to areas that resemble the setting of the book. If you are reading about fish, dogs, or other animals, plan a trip to the local pet store or zoo. If you can rent a movie from the same time peiod or genre, you may help to build your child’s interest in the story. Explore, try new things, and, most of all, HAVE FUN!!!

Visit MonkeyReader.com to find books to read both together and individually, as well as books to listen to on road trips, after dinner, or before seeing a movie based on that book. The classics are particularly good choices for everyone’s listening pleasure. We have over a million selections from which to choose, and prices are 30% 0ff retail !!!

Building a great comedy library, part 1, by Andrew Gilmore

July 3rd, 2009

     Hello, folks!

     Everyone enjoys a good laugh. Some people, like me, are so interested in laughing that they start collecting all the comedy material that they can and build a library of material they can enjoy over and over again! With that in mind, I’m here to highlight some of the items available on monkeyreader.com which can provide the building blocks for you to create a great comedy library!

     One of the first items I would reccomend is The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection, available at www.monkeyreader.com  This  six-DVD set contains some of the funniest movies ever made, starring the four legendary madcap comics known as Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo Marx. The Silver Screen Collection contains the Marxes’ first five movies, released between 1929 and 1933.

     First in the set is “The Cocoanuts” (1929). Like most of the Marx Brothers movies, you really don’t need to worry about the plot- all you really need to know is that Groucho plays a hotel mannager, and Chico and Harpo are among his guests. Despite the numerous technical flaws of “The Cocoanuts” (it was, after all, a very early sound film, and the recording technology at the time was very crude), it contains many very funny scenes, including Groucho and Chico’s famous “why a duck?” exchange.

     Next in the set is 1930’s “Animal Crackers”, in which Groucho plays perhaps his most celebrated role, that of Captain Geoffrey Spaulding, the African explorer. “Animal Crackers” contains one hilarious scene after another, and some of the Marxes’ most memorable quips and puns are in this film, especially from Groucho.

     Next is “Monkey Business” (1931), which contains just that- a lot of monkey business, and very little plot. But plot doesn’t matter when you have the four Marx Brothers stowing away on a ship!

     Next comes “Horse Feathers” (1932) in which the Marxes tackle the world of academia when Groucho becomes president of Huxley College and recruits Harpo and Chico for Huxley’s football team. From beginning to end, “Horse Feathers” is anarchic, surreal, wild, and very funny, perhaps even more so than the preceding three films.

     Finally comes “Duck Soup” (1933), often considered the Marxes’ masterpiece- a wild and hilarious political satire in which Groucho becomes leader of the country of Freedonia and has to deal with spies Harpo and Chico from the rival country of Sylvania. “Duck Soup” is truly among the funniest films ever made, from Groucho’s opening song to the famous “mirror scene”, there are more laughs in this one 70-minute romp than in five other comedies combined. But don’t take my word for it- purchase the Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection from monkeyreader.com and begin your comedy library with one of the greatest comedy teams of all time!

The Legend of Captain Monkey Reader

June 25th, 2009

The Legend of Captain Monkey Reader by Marsha Prybutok

Mother and I were sitting at the top of a Camu-camu tree
Eating up the berries, delicious as could be.
The sky began to darken as we looked out at the sea
At the edge of the Brazilian rainforest that was home to Mom and me.

My tummy full, I could see the clouds begin to thicken,
A storm was coming upon us and my heart began to quicken.
Our lofty perch began to quiver and we were really being shaken.
“Jump down quickly,” Mother said, “before we’re over-taken.”

The wind howled and giant raindrops fell.
Just as my feet hit the ground I could see the ocean swell.
Great waves were rising and creatures ran pell-mell.
Trying to get to safety, our fear we tried to quell.

We huddled together ‘neath the rainforest trees,
And waited for the rain to stop and for a calming of the breeze.
When all was quiet we ventured forth to see
A huge chest marooned on the sand, not too far from me.

Very carefully I approached the chest wondering what might be inside;
Pirate’s booty, diamonds, gold, oh what might this container hide?
The lid was held on with leather straps that had been tied,
And to get it opened I had to poke and pry.

I found not a king’s ransom — no riches were in there stored.
This chest was filled with books, maybe 500 or more.
There were big books and little books in varied colors galore;
Looking at all of them was quite a time-consuming chore.

The books were filled with words that I could not understand,
But I knew this find was important and carried the books to drier land.
Mother urged me to be careful and lent her sturdy hands.
When they were stacked in piles we tied them with grass bands.

These books must be important to have crossed the ocean blue.
I knew that I must tell my friend, the smartest creature that I knew.
She lived in the mountains and from her cave she had quite a view.
Ms. Librarianasaurus would know exactly what to do.

With my Mother’s blessing I set off that very day.
I took along three of the books to look at along the way.
The day was almost over, the sun was setting over the bay.
I found Ms. Librarianasaurus sitting on her porch eating cookies from a tray.

“How do you do my little friend?” is what she said to me.
“What brings you to my humble home just in time for tea?”
I told her of the chest I found, and showed her the books, all three.
She opened up her mouth so wide and let out with a wild, “Yipeee!”

“Ahh, my dear boy, do you know what you have here?”
Knowledge, information, words and dreams are found on these pages, everywhere.
I’ll teach you to decipher, but be careful not to tear.
This is important stuff that you’ve brought to me my dear.”

“It will be up to you to learn all that you possibly can,
And then to spread your knowledge to all the people of the land.
I will dub you Captain Monkey Reader and you will join my loyal band,
By telling all who’ll listen that reading is important, you will be giving me a hand.”

“If every person on this planet took time each day to read
This world might be a better place and not so much in need.
Folks would learn about each other and let their imaginations be freed;
To think of all the things they’d learn is quite exciting, indeed.”

“Captain Monkey Reader, as you go please sing to them this song.
It’s oh so pleasant and you must sing it loud and strong:”

If you like to read a lot
Well, we know just the thing
Join with Captain Monkey Reader
And have yourself a fling.

He’ll find you books on any subject
They’ll await you there
Sit down at your computer
And just pull up a chair.

Books about dinosaurs,
Frogs and snakes and bees
Even books on poetry
And how to cure a sneeze … Ha, Ha, Hachoo!

Anything you want to know
You can find at his website
So go to www.Monkeyreader.com
And behold a literary delight!

MonkeyReader.com, a new website dedicated to children’s literacy

June 22nd, 2009

It is with great pleasure that I write the first entry in the MonkeyReader Blog. I would like to take this opportunity to explain who is responsible for MonkeyReader.com, and what we hope to accomplish.

Firstly, MonkeyReader is the creation of four partners from Philadelphia: Jim Bolno,  Skip Scholl, Dave Rivoire, and Dave Lenett. The four of us have set out to create a profitable and socially conscious web business selling books, cd’s, and dvd’s. MonkeyReader hopes to differentiate itself from other online sellers like Amazon and Borders by creating the sense of community that one might experience in their neighborhood book shop, online. We hope to create a following of customers who see us as an alternative to the huge conglomerates, who like what we are trying to do, and appreciate our committment to children’s literacy. We would like MonkeyReader to become a focal point for individuals who have a strong interest in children’s literature and children’s literacy.

We are especially trying to appeal to kids, parents, and teachers by offering fun, content, and a great shopping experience. When you first enter MonkeyReader.com you are greeted by Captain Monkey Reader, our loveable mascot. The Captain, as we like to refer to him, is our creation: an attempt to create a fun warm character that kids will like, who will act as a guide, showing you through the different sections of the site. The Captain is a character we hope to build on in the future, as we think he has a lot of potential. He is our emissary, traveling around the world promoting the joy of children’s literature, he is the face of MonkeyReader. The site also provides a wealth of valuable content. Many people do not know what their children should be reading, so we offer our assistance in a number of different ways, similar to getting advice from an associate in your local book shop. We offer our recommendations, broken down by different age groups spanning from toddler to adult. We also offer books that were winners of prestigious children’s literature awards such as the Caldecott Award, the Newberry Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award, spanning back to the beginning of these awards some 50 years ago. The company has also developed a program for special needs children. An in-house reading specialist is available to answer questions and respond within 24 hours.

MonkeyReader.com is committed to public service in addition to customer service and the firm will be working with MetroKids Magazine to promote a book report contest. We are inviting kids to submit their own book reports, and we will post them on MonkeyReader. Each month we will pick the winning book report and reward the author with a $25 MonkeyReader shopping spree. We will continue to add to our library of children’s book reviews so kids can see what other kids liked about a book. This is an example of how the site will evolve down the road. We are a new member of the online community and we are open to suggestions on how we can improve.

Ultimately, price, selection, and availability are areas where MonkeyReader excels. The firm has affiliated itself with one of the largest wholesale book distributors in the world and a true veteran in the industry, Baker and Taylor, to handle customer service. The website is scaled so massive orders can be met instantaneously. In terms of price, we are now offering 30% off retail on virtually all of our products. While the big box stores may beat our price on a few of their loss leaders, when you look across the board at our prices and low shipping costs, we are the best in quality, and the least in cost. In terms of selection, we have over a million products. If we do not have what you’re looking for, you will probably not be able to find it anywhere.

Another area of importance to MonkeyReader is the desire to be socially responsible. Not only to provide good content, and value, but to actually give something back to the greater community. For MonkeyReader this desire has translated into a corporate commitment to share five percent of the firm’s annual profit with non-profit children’s literacy organizations.
We are hoping that our 5% commitment turns out to be a substantial contribution, because that will mean not only that we are doing good business, but also that we are making a considerable difference in the fight against illiteracy. We know that there are many worthy non-profit children’s literacy organizations that are having a hard time making it, and in this financial environment, corporate contributions are way down. We hope to become a new sustainable model for corporate philanthropy.

If you have an interest in literature, music, or film and would like to share your interests by blogging for MonkeyReader, please contact us through our website at www.monkeyreader.com. Thanks !!

Hello world!

June 18th, 2009

Welcome to the Captain Monkey Reader Blog.