Thursday, March 25, 2010


As “The Literacy Ambassador®,” author and children’s literacy consultant Cathy Puett Miller promotes early childhood literacy development and family literacy involvement.
Cathy presents at conferences and has written articles for Education World,, The Reading Tub, PTA websites, and parenting publications. She is also the author of Anytime Reading Readiness: Fun and Easy Family Activities That Prepare Your Child to Read.

Anytime Reading Readiness respects the reading readiness level of your child. Now you can integrate prereading activities throughout your day – without stress, fuss, or pushing your child. Prepare your child to read—any time.

“Cathy Miller is a genius,” says award-winning children’s author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy. “What, in the end, she is telling us with this wonderful book is that spending time with your child, and allowing learning to evolve through play, is the surest way to create intellectually curious learners. Hooray!”

Kathy: Welcome to my blog, Cathy.

Cathy P: Thank you, Kathy. I already feel as though we are connected because you live in north Georgia and I was in Cherokee County, GA (45 minutes north of Atlanta) for 7 years when our son was in elementary and middle school.

Kathy: Let’s begin by talking a bit about your role in the world of reading. You are known as the Literacy Ambassador®. What is a Literacy Ambassador®?

Cathy P: It is a trademarked tag line I use to identify what I do – I make friends for reading with educators, families and community organizations across the country. I am one of the few educational consultants who cross those lines. I also work in both the preschool and K-8 environment. I reach across between these often distinct groups because I believe the best results always come when partnerships develop: between families and educators, between preschool and kindergarten teachers. Some of your blog readers may know me from my monthly columns at and

Kathy: So what has the Literacy Ambassador® been up to lately?

Cathy P: I always have lots of projects going on but I have been traveling a lot lately, speaking at conferences in Washington, DC, St. Louis, MO, Minneapolis, MN, Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA. Everywhere I go, I meet people from various walks of life hungry to know how to best help children become strong readers.

Kathy: Speaking of children and reading, do you have some books you’d recommend for those visiting my blog (either teachers or parents)?

Cathy P: Sure. I’ll give you a few titles for different age levels here and then people can visit my website for more extended lists. They’ll also find lots of recommendations of great books especially for the young ones in my two new titles from Maupin House but we’ll talk more about those later.

Preschool and Kindergarten:
Baa-Choo by Sarah Weeks
Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis
Indestructibles, a wordless book series by Amy Pixton
Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten by Stacey Kannenberg
Love the Baby by Steven Layne

First and Second Grade: From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Let’s Make Rabbits by Leo Lionni
Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck
The Easter Egg by Jan Brett
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Third through Fifth Grade:
A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
Evolution: Who We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton
Lawn Boy Returns by Gary Paulsen
Roberto and Me by Dan Gutman
Three Cups of Tea by Gary Mortenson

Kathy: Why did you pick these books?

Cathy P: My criteria for great books to read or share with students is “will they be interested?” “Will it give them an authentic reason to want to read; a positive experience with a book?” They have plenty of “must reads” in their lives but if we do not show children and families the power of books for them, we will not hook them. There are just too many distractions.

Kathy: That brings up an important point. There really are a lot of distractions from reading these days. What advice do you have for parents and teachers?

Cathy: I’m starting a revolution! And I want to invite you and all your bloggers to join in. Just a few minutes ago we were talking about those partnerships that are so meaningful to the success of young children. My two new books, Before They Read (for preschool and kindergarten teachers) and Anytime Reading Readiness (for parents and guardians of 3-6 year olds) are easy guidebooks to get involved. Each focuses on the same three big ideas, but with a slant specific to the needs of those who are reading them (families or educators).

The three big ideas are:

The importance of talking with young children to aid in their growth of their oral language

The delicious, delightful experience of reading a story with a child and exploring a book using a technique I called Engaged Interactive Read Aloud.

Playing with sounds and patterns in the language.

Kathy: And where are these books available?

Cathy P: You can get them through my publisher, Maupin House, by visiting my website If your visitors have a favorite online book store like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Books A Million, etc., they can also purchase them there. And the Before They Read title is a great Teacher Appreciation Week gift. Mother’s and Father’s Day will be here before we know it and the Anytime Reading Readiness book is a perfect choice for those special days.

Kathy: What about kids beyond this getting ready and beginning to read stage?

Cathy P: The same foundations are important; we simply build upon them. My technique, Engaged Interactive Read Aloud, for instance works all the way up through high school. Anyone can visit my website and look for my 1/27 interview with Stacey Kannenberg on her Born to Learn Mom show to hear just how to do it. Just visit and scroll down to the second item on the audio player.

Certainly it is important to continue to support readers even after they are reading on their own. But, once the snuggle and cuddle stage is gone, that may take a different approach.

Kathy: We’re at the end of our time together but are there some additional resources you can share?

Cathy P: I invite everyone to visit and follow my blogs

for parents
for educators K-12
for preschool teachers:

Kathy: Thank you for youe time, information and the wonderful work you do.

Cathy: Your welcome. I enjoyed my visit.

Kathy Stemke's websites:
Moving Through all Seven Days link:
Follow me on twitter:
Follow me on Facebook:!/kathymarescomatthews.stemke?ref=profile
Add to Technorati Favorites


Margaret Fieland said...

Kathy, thanks for the interesting interview.
Cathy, I'd be curious to hear your views on techniques used to teach reading and how they've changed over the years, and what you feel is effective when, especially for children with reading difficulties.

Dallas said...

Thanks for this very insightful interview! Cathy I so admire and applaud you. I am also passionate about literacy, specifically youth literacy, and it is so rewarding to see children fall in love with books. Reading opens so many doors! Thank you for all the good work you do! And Kathy thank you for this great post.

All best wishes,
Dallas Woodburn

founder of Write On! For Literacy

Cheryl said...

What an excellent interview. I am so impressed with all Cathy does to encourage a love of reading in young people.

Her books sound wonderful. As a mom and an avid reader, instilling a love of reading and writing in young people has always been important to me.


Donna McDine said...

Terrific insightful interview. What an inspiration! Thanks for the valuable resources.

Katie Hines said...

I'd never heard of a literacy ambassador before, so it was fun reading about this busy lady and all she is doing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this great interview Kathy. I enjoyed learning about what Cathy does.

Cathy Puett Miller said...

Thanks to all of you that dropped in Kathy's blog and left a note. You who are out there touching the lives of real children are the ones that can make the most difference.

Margaret, since I think that my answer to you might take longer than I should on this comment field, I welcome you visiting my blog for parents ( for a deeper response. When I hear a question from one person, I believe there are often many others with the same question.

If you'd like to keep up with the Literacy Ambassador, you have several ways to do so: you can visit my website, follow my blogs (listed in Kathy's post and on my website under The Literacy Ambassador's corner). You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook (litambassador) or on Linkedin.

I'd also love the opportunity to come and help you focus on reading in your community so feel free to look over my conference and training topics and find one that works for the needs in your area of the country.