Blue Manatee Literacy Project


Empowering every young reader with the skills, resources, and inspiration to succeed

For decades, the Blue Manatee’s incredible “sense of place” has fostered young readers’ enthusiasm for literature, imagination and expressive arts and formed familial bonds and routines that forever impact its patrons. Far too few children have the gift of this experience. We aim to change that.
Who are you people and what have you done with our Blue Manatee?

We are a passionate group of start-up veterans, educators, physicians, moms, dads...all reading enthusiasts who are excited to be the stewards of this precious store and take its lessons of sharing and growing through reading to every Cincinnati child, whether they ever walk through our doors or not. Our nonprofit mission drives everything in our organization. The store is a beacon, of sorts, for the kind of experience with reading that we believe all children deserve.

What's changed?

In the store, you’ll notice some new paint, some new events and a visible focus on serving our community. What you’ll also see are many familiar faces, treasured stories and experiences that have drawn in young readers and families for 30 years.

How does this whole literacy thing work for kids?

BMLP will complement successful, existing literacy efforts through “1 for 1” book donations, support for training reading mentors, expanded author events, building on successful programs that require scale and innovative new programs currently under development.

What is the focus of the literacy effort?

BMLP will focus on improving the chances for literacy success among children aged 4-8, those years spanning pre-K to grade 3, where a critical need exists to reach and assist children who have not had access to the vital combination of books and appropriate instruction, what we call Curated Literacy. Despite recent improvements, close to 40% of children entering kindergarten in disadvantaged neighborhoods struggle to read at grade level, with 3/4 of those students remaining at similar risk by grade 3.

What are some of your innovative ideas?

1. Becoming PALs (Personal Advocates for Reading) are parents, family members, or friends who commit to being trained and mentoring an at-risk kindergarten student as he or she travels the path to reading proficiency. Materials and confidence-building support provided by BMLP and partners.

2. Near-Peer Mentoring, where middle school students work with kindergarten or first-graders as relatable role models and provide esteem-building support for their reading, while building their own leadership skills.

3. Bilingual Early Exposure will provide the chance for young readers to experience the language and culture of their peers, who may sit right beside them in class, but whose family history and path to school may have been remarkably different from their own. BMLP will provide Spanish and English language material and interactive opportunities for students to appreciate the challenge of what it means to be part of a more diverse community, where language is often a barrier.

How can I help the Manatee?

You can be part of the ManaTeam in numerous ways:

1. Shop at the Store/1 For 1: Each book purchased at the Blue Manatee Literacy Project store will be matched by one donated through an age and ability-appropriate guided program to a young reader, so each new book becomes a source of confidence and achievement. Since we enjoy counting to really big numbers, we highly encourage multiple purchases on each visit. 6 For 6 is better than 1 For 1!

2. Donate! Either in-store or online , your financial support of Blue Manatee Literacy Project is like rocket fuel to deliver more opportunities to our emerging readers at blazing speed!

3. Volunteer! As our journey begins, we are heartened by our community’s desire to jump in with both feet (and hands!) to help us help all of our kids. Please visit our Volunteer page to see opportunities that may match your skills or interests and ways to Become a PAL.


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