While volunteering as a tutor for elementary school students from impoverished areas three years ago, Rye resident Marissa Licursi noticed the children struggled with literacy. Since then she has been involved with various organizations that help the less fortunate but felt she needed to do more to address the challenge of children’s literacy.
Licursi, a junior at the Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Greenwich, Ct., employed the help classmate Sydney Walker to start the Publishing Hearts club at school last year.
“In Publishing Hearts, our philosophy is that if you teach a child to read, they ideally will be in a better position and at less of a risk of being homeless, jobless or hungry. If you invest money in educating a child, they will be much better off later in life,” Licursi said.
More than one third of American children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read, Licursi said. Publishing Hearts’ first book “A Paw and a Flipper,” is intended for young readers between the ages of two and six to help change this statistic.
Over the last year, Licursi and Walker guided the club through the process of publishing a children’s book, “A Paw and a Flipper.” They now aim to sell 1,000 copies and will donate 90 percent of the profits to the children’s literacy organization, Reach Out and Read, five percent of profits to their sister school in Uganda and five percent to a summer academy program.
The book went on sale two weeks ago and can be purchased at www.publishinghearts.webs.com for $16.
Publishing the book was a challenge at times, Licursi said, but the group of about 20 girls stuck together to create a plot, write the storyline and illustrate the book. They worked with publisher Phil Whitmarsh to complete the project.
“A Paw and a Flipper,” is about a polar bear named Charlie who accidentally falls into the Arctic waters when fishing. The oceans carry him from the North Pole to Antarctica. A small penguin named Lily befriends Charlie and together, they bring amusement and laughter to readers while capturing themes of unity, acceptance of others, and friendship.
Now that the book is complete, the girls aim to sell it to the youngest students at their schools and to use online resources like Amazon, local libraries and local events to reach their goal of selling 1,000 copies.
Full list of members of the Publishing Hearts Club:
Bianca Chiappelloni Greenwich, CT
Kensie Almeida White Plains, NY
Sophie Radtke Rowaytown, CT
Maddie Caponiti Rye, NY
Emily Hirshorn Harrison, NY
Anneliese Hummel White Plains, NY
Grace Conrad Armonk, NY
Becca Quirke Rye, NY
Margot McCloskey Bronxville, NY
Jane Mikus Larchmont, NY
Vanessa Raskin Greenwich, CT
Stephanie Velasquez Stamford, CT
Mo Lietner Darien, CT
Colleen O'Neill Norwalk, CT
Shelby Holland Bronxville, NY
Abby Smith Wilton, CT
Catie Ruzika Greenwich, CT