FRANKLIN, TN / On Thursday, March 29, 2012, award-winning third grade Grassland Elementary Destination ImagiNation (DI) team, The Albert DI-nsteins, are celebrating the release of their book, No Reading Allowed with local READing Paws teams and Merilee Kelley, the founder of READing Paws, at Aspen Grove Park in Cool Springs. Eleven Middle Tennessee READing Paws teams, made up of owner/handlers and registered therapy dogs, will attend the party to thank Austin, Caroline, Crews, Gabby and Sean (The Albert DI-nsteins) for helping to raise money and awareness for READing Paws through their DI project, writing, illustrating and publishing No Reading Allowed.
READing Paws is an organization that helps kids become better, more confident readers by letting the kids read to dogs or other animals who are trained therapy animals, in schools, libraries and other settings. READing Paws was started by Merilee Kelley in 2006 in Nashville. Merilee and her dog Kalua were Grassland Elementary School’s first READing Paws Team. Now based in Florida, READing Paws has 340 teams in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. They are an affiliate of the national organization R.E.A.D. ® (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), a program of Intermountain Therapy Animals, which has more than 3,800 teams across the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
The Albert DI-nsteins won the Renaissance Award at the Regional Destination ImagiNation Tournament held at Brentwood Middle School for “extraordinary amounts of effort and preparation or outstanding skills in engineering, design or performance.” They also won first place at Regionals in their challenge, The World Canvas: Project Outreach, which challenged DI teams from all over the world to use creative problem-solving tools to identify at least one real community need and design and carry out a project to address that need.
The Albert DI-nsteins chose to write, illustrate, and publish, both traditionally and in e-book format, No Reading Allowed, a children’s book that will help READing Paws by raising money, awareness and volunteers for the non-profit literacy organization. Local children’s book publisher Flowerpot Press taught the team about publishing and graphic design, and helped put what the team created into the proper format for printing through Nashville company Lightning Source. No Reading Allowed can be bought on Amazon.com for Kindle for 99 cents, and will be available traditionally for $4.99 on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com. All profits go directly to READing Paws.
“We chose to work with READing Paws because they come to our schools, like Ms. Dee Bowen and her dog, Ella, a READing Paws Team at Grassland Elementary. We decided to write a book because it could bring money and awareness to READing Paws and also, if you read with a READing Paws dog (or rabbit) for a while, you can earn a free book. We decided we could give copies of No Reading Allowed to READing Paws so the children could read it,” says Sean Dick, member of The Albert DI-nsteins.
“READing Paws is delighted and proud to be included in the Albert DI-nsteins’ project,” founder Merilee Kelley said. “Our mission is to help children learn to love reading, four paws at a time. These creative, enthusiastic and inspiring students are helping to enable our Teams to assist even more students. We are thrilled to be able to share their journey with our students with No Reading Allowed and the story of how it came about!”
Destination ImagiNation is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs for students to learn and experience creativity, teamwork and problem solving reaching 125,000 students across the U.S. and more than 30 countries. The Albert DI-nsteins now advances to the State Tournament, held on Saturday, April 14, 2012, at David Lipscomb University. Winners at State Tournament go on to Globals, held in Knoxville, TN, at The University of Tennessee, May 23 through 26, where over 1,000 teams from all over the world will present their solutions to one of six challenges, in the areas of technical, scientific, fine arts, improvisational, structural, or service.