Kids have so many opportunities to interact with media, but not as many to work with creative professionals. I love to bring books alive, get kids involved in the creative process and encourage them to dream. To this end, I create large-scale literacy initiatives that involve young people in meaningful ways. –Sue Stauffacher

Wireman Comics | Project to Bring Innovative Material to Reluctant Readers

Issue-1Wireman is a long-term project that supports this basic hypothesis that Sue’s developed after two decades of working with at-risk readers: barring processing disorders such as dyslexia, children will learn to read if they want to.  If this hypothesis is correct (trust her, it is), then kids need something so attractive to read that they will do the hard work of learning to read just to find out what happens next.  Thousands of children have read Wireman, and they are clamoring for what happens next! Currently, Sue is traveling from Chicago to New York City to find a publisher for Wireman! Read more about the comic and project here!

The Tillie Ride | Project to Educate Youth on their Ability to do ANYTHING!

DSC_0005Though Sue knew instinctively that at-risk kids would connect with the story of Tillie Anderson, the Swedish Immigrant who bucked tradition, sewed her own form-fitting racing uniform and became a champion bicycle racer in the 1890s, she wanted to think ‘outside the book’ to help make that connection.  Enter The Tillie Ride, a more than 250-mile bike journey made by Sue and her gang from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Tillie’s hometown in Chicago. To tell children that Tillie did something that seemed—at that time—to be impossible was one way to honor this  history-making woman.  But to show them by trying to achieve something impossible herself was even better.  So this former ‘weakling,’ and self-described bookworm, fired up a weblog and logged the miles to be able to visit more than 1,000 schoolkids who had never met a children’s book author. Check out The Tillie Ride here!

Souled Out, the Bessie Smith Musical | Project to Take Characters into Real Life

bessie show 1In order to help contemporary singers understand the beauty and significance of the blues music of Bessie Smith, Sue produced a musical based on my picture book, Bessie Smith and the Night Riders. Performed to ‘Souled Out’ audiences, the musical gave young singers and actresses with no community theater experience a chance to showcase their amazing talents.  This singing troupe was so popular, they were hired to sing at the Superintendent’s going away bash.  The money they earned helped them travel to Disney World to compete in a national choral tournament. See a video about the making of the musical here!

One Book, One City | Project to Turn Books into Interactive Adventures

OBOCSue’s Animal Rescue Team series is based in the City of Grand Rapids where she lives. She knew kids would get more excited about a book in which they could recognize people and places, so she set her fictional stories right here, using people, events and locations from West Michigan.  When one of her Animal Rescue Team books was chosen by the city to be the book all fourth graders read, Sue worked with the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation and the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition to donate a bike map for each reader.  Now kids can ‘map’ the settings for the stories and check out how close they live to the characters.  What a great way to bring books to life!