Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools
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Ellen Dean reads from "Horton Hears a Who!"


BookPALS is a unique all-volunteer literacy program. Professional actors visit public elementary schools in local neighborhoods to read aloud to children every week. The world of literacy and literature is then opened to these children by the very people who can make books come alive through their talent and training.

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Website Reconstruction

Thursday, February 23 2012 @ 04:23 PM EST


Please excuse us while in the process of reconstructing our website. We appreciate your patience! In the meantime, please visit us on Facebook at Florida BookPALS & PencilPALS


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Most Recent Post: 02/02 12:34AM by Anonymous

Lifelong Friendship Forged by Letters: A PencilPALS Story

Sunday, November 13 2011 @ 06:09 PM EST


In this age of emailing, texting, and social networking, PencilPALS volunteers are working the front lines to prevent letter writing from becoming a lost art. When students write letters, not only do they develop their sense of creativity and individuality, but also they develop a bond with their PencilPAL. Their letters become tangible expressions of that bond, helping children feel connected and valued. The children treasure their PencilPALS letters, reading them repeatedly, sometimes even until the paper wears thin.

So when volunteer Michelle Bodnar first signed up to become a PencilPAL and told me about her own pen pals experiences as a 6th grader, I asked her if sheíd be willing to share her story. Itís a poignant reminder of the power of the written word. The Florida PencilPALS program is honored to host both Michelle and her childhood pen pal from Holland, Lenie Van Bokkel, as volunteer PencilPALS this year! Many thanks to both of you for sharing your story and for inspiring Floridaís young charges to practice and polish the craft of letter writing.

Michelle and Lenie by Michelle Bodnar

When I was in 6th grade, my teacher arranged for our class to be involved in a pen pal program with high school students in Holland. I suppose the project was so that these students could improve their English, and we could improve our letter writing skills. After a couple of months, my pen pal no longer wanted to continue writing, and my friend no longer wanted to write to her pen pal. I loved writing letters and so did my friendís pen pal, Lenie, so in the second half of the school year, Lenie and I became pen pals. I was turning 12 and Lenie was turning 15 that summer.

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Most Recent Post: 11/08 05:00PM by Anonymous

Thank you to our Florida Supporters!

Thursday, September 01 2011 @ 05:31 PM EDT


Florida BookPALS would like to extend a hearty thank you to the following companies and organizations for supporting Florida BookPALS and PencilPALS programs!

Actors' Playhouse Website

Unitarian Universalist Association


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Most Recent Post: 01/27 10:33PM by Anonymous

Back to School Volunteer Guidelines

Wednesday, August 10 2011 @ 04:36 PM EDT


Thank you for participating in BookPALS & PencilPALS for the 2011-12 School Year!

It's that time again! As we begin our literacy adventures for another exciting school year, here are a few important reminders:

1. Please complete a district volunteer application through your county school system. Below is a list of websites and phone numbers for various counties. Please find your county and complete the necessary form before you begin volunteering. This is mandatory for all counties and all volunteers not only for liability reasons, but also to ensure that your school gets proper credit for your volunteer hours, which may qualify them for awards, grants and other benefits. Thank you in advance for taking the time to do this!

2. If you are a PencilPAL, you will be receiving an assignment in September. If you are new to BookPALS and need placement at a school, please contact Natalie. Iím happy to help you make the appropriate connections. If you are a returning BookPAL, please contact your teachers from last year to determine a weekly reading schedule thatís convenient for you and the teachers. Many teachers like to take the first few weeks of school to acclimate students to the new year. Please wait until after Labor Day to contact them for this reason. It can be difficult to reach teachers sometimes. If you have problems or questions, donít hesitate to call Natalie.

3. Once you have established a reading schedule and begin volunteering, please contact Natalie with the names and grade levels of each of the teachers you read for, as well as the name of school(s)--especially if you read at more than one school, as some of you so generously you do! This is important information that allows me to track the number of students we reach. Donít forget to ask for a school calendar so you are aware of the dates school may be closed for holidays, testing or field trips. Most calendars are available online via school district websites. If you need help, Iím happy to obtain a calendar for you.

4. Melissa Brandt, our National Book Reviewer, makes her book reviews easily accessible via our online BOOKFINDER. Bibliographies and other book recommendations are readily available. You should also feel free to speak with your teachers and the schoolís Media Specialist about book recommendations and borrowing books from the schoolís library. In addition, please visit the childrenís librarians at your local public library. They are a wonderful resource for BookPALS and PencilPALS.

5. Keeping talking to your teachers (and me!) as the weeks unfold. Share ideas about what seems to be working and how these programs can be shaped for your classes. Thank you for participating in these worthwhile programs! It's going to be a great school year!

Links to Volunteer Applications by County

Broward County: Please complete the application available at: Hardcopy application is also availableóask Natalie for a copy or call 754-321-2040 for more info.

Duval County: Please complete and submit the following volunteer application: or call 904-390-2960 for more information.

Hillsborough County: Please complete and submit the following SERVE volunteer application: or call 813-872-5254 for more info.

Lake County: Complete and submit the following volunteer application to your school:

Miami-Dade: Please complete and submit the following volunteer application to your school:!svp/1764.pdf or call 305-995-1445 for more info.

Orange County: Please complete an ADDitions Volunteer Application at: or call 407-317-3323 for more info.

Osceola County: Please complete an OASIS volunteer application at your school or call 407-870-4955 for more info.

Palm Beach County: Applications must be completed on site at your school of choice. Visit for more information

Pinellas County: should call or e-mail Family & Community Relations at: 727-588-6405 or You may also visit: for a list of volunteer opportunities at various schools.

Seminole County: Please complete the Dividends volunteer application at: or call 407-320-0182 for more info.


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Most Recent Post: 06/04 09:24AM by Anonymous

Remembering BookPAL Robert Kennedy 1935-2011

Friday, July 29 2011 @ 03:04 PM EDT

San Francisco

The San Francisco BookPALS community was saddened to hear about the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Robert Kennedy. Many of us had the opportunity to meet and work with Robert over the years, as he was one of the original BookPALS who helped launch the program under the leadership of Tracy Heffernan.

He started reading at John Gill Elementary in Redwood City (1988) and when he and his wife, Robyn moved to Sacramento, he spent many years reading at Empire Oaks, FC Joyce and Woodlake Elementary Schools in Folsom. He never passed up a chance to read and sometimes spent an entire day in the Empire Oaks School Library reading to classes.

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Most Recent Post: 08/02 12:07AM by Anonymous

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