National Poetry Month is National Poetry month.  Poetry is something most have tried at one time or another because it is part of our education system.  I’m not brave enough to share my own poems mainly because I wrote them back in college and I can’t find them.  Poetry is something a few of our students try but like me sharing it isn’t something they jump at the opportunity to do.

Instead I just want to share two poems by Shel Silverstein, my favorite poet.  I think he is my favorite because of a high school theater production I was in where our teacher made up a production with a lot of his material.

Whatif by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

God’s Wheel by Shel Silverstein

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, “Hey how would you like
to be God awhile And steer the world?”
“Okay,” says I, “I’ll give it a try.

Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?”

“Gimme back that wheel,” says GOD.
“I don’t think you’re quite ready YET.”


So… ‘Whatif’ you aren’t ready YET, give it a try this month anyway.

Reading Aloud

courtneyand elliot
My daughter, Elliott, has had been read to since she was in the womb. My husband, Jacob, and I attended Indiana University when I was pregnant. We spent our Sunday afternoons doing homework at the dining room table and taking turns reading our textbooks to my enormous belly.

Reading to Elliott was never an option. After she was born, we read anything that had words: newspapers, restaurant menus, billboards, and books. As Elliott grew, books became just as important in our daily lives as water. There wasn’t a day that passed that we didn’t read to Elliott. It even progressed to her sleeping cuddled up with a book, as opposed to a stuffed animal (although she eventually got one of those too!)

Our goal for Elliott wasn’t necessarily to become a good reader or to love books. We just wanted some time with her-no TV, no phones, and no distractions. It was just the three of us hanging out on the bed and reading up to three books a night.

A few months before Elliott turned three, I could see how our actions helped her develop. She grabbed a book that we had read, what seemed like millions of times, and started to recite it. She had memorized the book. I couldn’t believe it. Weeks later, she told us she wanted to learn to read. We began teaching her sight words and how to blend. Now she is five, and for fun we play book club and have spelling tests (these are her ideas, not mine!)

We all want the best for our children, right? We want them to be able to accomplish anything they want. There is a single action that parents can do that will give their child every tool they need to do anything. Read to them.

Reading to your kids will:

  • Allow you to spend uninterrupted time together
  • Increase his or her vocabulary. Hearing more words spoken can only help increase your child’s vocabulary
  • Expose your child to new ideas and cultures. Books have exposed Elliott to a variety of animals. She can tell you some random facts about marmots, thanks to books!
  • Foster essential life skills, such as making connections and critical thinking.

The great thing about reading with your children, is it’s never too late to start! So, start tonight!

Read Aloud

CharleyThe Literacy Center often receives inquiries on the need for services for children to assist with reading.  I personally have been asked, several times, “What can I do to help make sure my child is a good reader?”  The answer is simple: read to them and read with them! Read Aloud to them from birth!

March is National Reading Awareness Month and we partner with the Read Aloud organization to share facts on social media about reading.  One of the scariest facts is “More than half the children in this country — 13 million children — will not hear a bedtime story tonight.” I know that homework, dinner, sports and other activities can get in the way of this simple activity, but I cannot stress enough how important reading is for all ages. The example of reading must be in every home. Being able to read and comprehend what you are reading is critical to communication, making connections, gaining perspective and thinking critically.  These are life skills that are more important than memorization of facts for a test.

The movement is to take 15 minutes each day to Read Aloud.  You can tailor this to your family.

Does your child like movies or acting?  Get a script and read aloud the parts! 

Is your family into sports? Read aloud the scores and wrap up reports from your favorite game.

Does your family like music?  Read aloud lyrics to your favorite songs.

The point is to choose your own material. Mix it up!  Don’t make it a…we have to do this chore. Instead, make it a fun family tradition. You make time for traditions. There is nothing like the joy of a child picking up a book and bringing it to you to read aloud.  My granddaughter Charley is now 16 months old and she started bringing books to us this past weekend and holding out her arms. It melts my heart each time. And each time, we sit down and read aloud and we always will.

Jennifer Wigginton

Fact sourceMarch is National Reading Awareness Month

Love what you do?

#LoveLiteracy Read for LifeNot many people can say they love their job. I know many adults who dread going to work. Not me! I absolutely love my job. Why? I have the honor of being The Literacy Center’s Education Coordinator. Being the Education Coordinator allows me to directly work with students, volunteers, and collaborators to help improve adult reading skills.

Over the last two years I have met some amazing and inspiring people. I get to watch our students grow and evolve. I see them accomplish goals and realize a better future for themselves and their families. A few goals that students have achieved over the last two years are: getting a better job; starting Ivy Tech; reading a book; gaining courage to read aloud; filling out job applications; and utilizing online banking. I’m so lucky to be involved with these success stories.

However, it isn’t all about my work with the students. Our volunteers are incredibly important, and I have the privilege to work with many awesome people. Our volunteers teach me daily how to be more selfless and giving. We have the greatest army of volunteers.

In addition to our students and volunteers, I love the people with whom we collaborate. I have met inspirational people because of our collaborations with organizations throughout Evansville, such as Willard Library, Bethlehem United Church of Christ, United Caring Shelters, and many Neighborhood Associations. I have learned so much about other non-profits and the amazing work they do in our community.

Every single day I wake up excited to get to work. I love the adventures I have. I love that I’m learning something new. If you are looking to do something you love, you should consider volunteering with us! You’ll love it too!

Love Literacy

Millie Ad 5February is a month of love- Valentine’s Day, Library Lovers’ Month, and American Heart Month.  We also like to celebrate the love of literacy this month. Let’s be honest, we like to celebrate this every month.  If you received our last newsletter you read about all the great things happening at The Literacy Center…

If that is not enough to celebrate the love of literacy then maybe you can just sit down with a book and read to yourself, a child or a friend that would like to hear a story.  If you need any information about Literacy, call, tweet, text, message me!  I’m here to help with all Literacy questions.

Resolutions Part 2

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

For many, the New Year marks change. For whatever reason, we look at January 1 as a time to try to accomplish something significant in our lives. According to US government data some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are:

  • Lose weight
  • Volunteer to help others
  • Quit smoking
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Save money
  • Get fit
  • Eat healthy food
  • Manage stress
  • Manage debt
  • Take a trip

No matter how great our intentions are the first couple of weeks in January (or few days if you’re like me!), we lose our motivation. It is largely estimated that only 8% of Americans succeed with their resolutions.  That number is astoundingly low.

Now that I’ve been a Debbie-downer, let me tell you how we can increase our chances of succeeding. Perhaps one of the most common reasons people fail at their New Year’s Resolutions is that their goals are all wrong.

Let’s look at the health goals in the above list: lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, and eat healthy food. How much weight? What exactly is “fit” anyway? Just rewording these goals can increase chance of success. For instance, instead of saying, “My resolution is to lose weight.” you may say “I will lose 25 pounds this year.” It is much better. However, this goal is still huge. Try this one “I will lose 2.1 pounds every month.” If you were able to lose 2.1 pounds every month, that would actually be just a touch over 25 pounds. And let’s face it, 2.1 pounds is much less intimidating than 25 pounds.

Another reason one might fail at accomplishing a goal is lack of support. Social support in our endeavors helps our bodies reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and anxiety. If someone attempts a very daunting task solo, the stress of possible failure can actually cause them to fail.

Although used a lot in this piece, we at The Literacy Center, do not like the word fail. We do our best to arm our students with an arsenal of resources, knowledge, and support to help them avoid the 92% resolution failure rate.

Many times a student comes to us and says that they want to get their high school equivalency or they want to read better. We take these vague goals and make them very specific. If a student wants to read better, we ask specifically what they want to read: Green Eggs and Ham?  Harry Potter? To Kill a Mockingbird? We work to improve their skills and vocabulary around a particular piece. Once one goal is accomplished, we can always set more!


jennwigginton (2)



I surveyed a group of friends and I asked them, when I say…resolution, what do you think of?


The replies were:

New and fresh start

Bettering yourself



Weight Loss

Then I asked these same friends, “Did you make a resolution this year?”

All answers were no. The reasons why were: didn’t feel like it, I won’t keep it, I’ll just fail and variations of that!  To that I say Bravo!!

Resolutions have always had a bad reputation and it is the norm to break them.  I think the reason we break them (when we make them) is because we don’t define the resolution specifically so we can’t measure it. If we can’t measure it, we will procrastinate because there is no time frame.  So, stop the madness and stop making New Year resolutions.  Each day is a fresh start. If you want to improve something, if you want to do something nice, then do it that day.  We must stop setting ourselves up to fail.  Take each day and tell yourself what you will accomplish that day.  Each day is our timeline and there is always tomorrow. No seriously, I would like to say I have this perfected, I do not.  I plan to take 2015 one day at a time and I invite you to do the same.

Jennifer Wigginton, Executive Director

The Gift of Goals

IMG_1737Today, I had my first live audience. I read a page from Tuesday’s with Morrie in front of Jenn. I have never read to anyone, other than my tutors.

Four years ago I walked into The Literacy Center barely able to read a billboard or restaurant menu. As a child, doctors told my mother that I would never have the capability of other children; they said I would never learn. Now, I hunger for books. Words are the only cure for my thirst. Knowledge is what sustains me.

As I exited the dusty doors of my public education, I felt that I had accomplished all I could. The bright doors of The Literacy Center opened and guided me to my new life of today. Though I may never walk through the hallow halls of Harvard or Yale, my walk through The Literacy Center is all I really need for my life to be fulfilled.

Though I will be retiring from my job in 14 months, my life is not coming to an end. It is just the beginning. My goals are to obtain my high school equivalency and become a tutor for The Literacy Center. I also want to help in The Literacy Lab; to lead my brothers and sisters from their dark halls to the brightness of literacy.  I desire to give back what The Literacy Center has given me—a chance at greatness.

So with this season of giving, if you know an adult who struggles with reading, give them a hug and tell them that you know a place they can turn. It’s a place that will help guide them from the darkness of illiteracy, and into the brightness of knowledge.


By Darrell Murray

At The Literacy Center, Who Really Does the Giving?

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

When I tell people what I do for a living the response is almost always the same—“Oh, it must be so rewarding to give back to the community like that.” I guess that’s one way to look at it. Personally, I think I’m lucky to have the opportunity to have our students give me so much.

Today, I witnessed a student face one of his biggest fears. To see him accomplish a goal he never thought possible helped me realize that students give me so much more than I give them. Our students constantly give:

Trust- In order for the relationship between us and a student to be successful, a student has to trust us to help them judgment free. Many times our students have faced constant ridicule for their lack of reading skills. To give trust so freely is truly a gift.

Time- We ask our students to establish a new routine to face an incredible challenge. Our students walk in the door without knowing how much they will learn, or if we will really help them reach their goals. Yet, week after week, they continue to give us their time. This also builds on the trust factor. They trust that we will help them, so they continue to give us their time.

Devotion- Students come here ready to learn, but uncertain of the results. However, they devote their time and energy to not only the program, but to us as individuals. The devotion given to us is a priceless gift beyond measure.

Fulfillment- My job is perhaps the best job in the world. I get to work with the most amazing group of people; donors, volunteers, staff, supporters, and especially students. As much as I enjoy my time with volunteers and supporters, it pales in comparison to my time with students. The warm fuzzy feeling I get when a student grasps a concept is second to none. When a student achieves something, like the student today, it makes my heart swell. Not because I helped him get to where he is, but because he got there, and I had the pleasure to be a part of it.

To each of our students, supporters, and volunteers, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gifts each of you give me.


jennwigginton (2)December is a month for GIVING.  We each have our own significant way to give.  Some give their time, and talents and some give money and others give gifts. What is best about Giving?  Is it the warm and fuzzy feeling you get?  Is it the emotional connection made? Is it the #PayItForward that is special; or possibly the #RandomActsofKindness that makes our heart skip a beat?    When I think of GIVING…







As we each celebrate the season in our own way, my wish for you is that you have meaning for the season and your GIVING.