Cool Boys Read, Inc.


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Summer Reading Kickoff with Kevin Powell

Posted by Susan Herriott on June 17, 2016 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (41)

Today, June 11, is the Cool Boys Read summer kickoff. The author who spoke there was Kevin Powell. He wrote twelve books, including his new book, The Education of Kevin Powell. Kevin Powell is very inspiring. He is also very funny. Mr. Powell is like a comedian! He talked about believing you are a genius. He also talked about greatness and hip hop. I am going to be reading his new book over the summer. I bet that I will enjoy it.

Devon P.

Check the Rhyme: The Originals Rock the Mic

Posted by Susan Herriott on August 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Originals had a rap workshop on Thursday evening, and it was awesome! My brother Kavin conducted the session with the help of our friend Mieasia and a teenage volunteer, Andrew. It was a lot of fun! The boys spent the first part of the evening working together as a group. They chose a few of the vocabulary words I gave them at the beginning of the summer, put each one in a sentence or phrase, and then created a rhyme for the next line.

After that we had a freestyle circle. It was a riot! Too bad my rap was not recorded. It was a hoot! And parent Tamia O'Neal put down a vocal hook that had us jammin'! After warming up, the boys each wrote a short rap using some of their vocabulary words. Kavin pulled it all together by reciting a rap with eight of the vocabulary words and adding some freestyle lines at the end, demonstrating some lyrical skill and encouraging the boys to do well. I think the boys and the adults all really enjoyed this meeting where talent and intellect were in full effect!


The Harlem Book Fair

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 31, 2011 at 8:09 PM Comments comments (0)

Our trip to the Harlem Book Fair on Saturday, July 23rd was really great. The boys were very enthusiastic about their participation, and they did a great job representing themselves and our organization.


First, the youngest boys from the Rock Stars and the Letter Rip had their turn. Each boy brought a book he enjoys reading, showed it to the audience and told why he likes it. There was no microphone, so it was difficult to hear them, but I did my best to repeat their comments so that the audience would know what they were saying. Despite that challenge, the boys really did a fantastic job, and I was so proud of them.


The older boys were next. Group Leader Lucria Ortiz questioned representatives from the Originals, the Lightning Bolts and the Rock Stars about what they are currently reading, their reading statistics from last year, how participation in the Cool Boys Read(TM) Summer Enrichment Program has impacted their reading habits and more. The boys did a great job expressing themselves, and we were very pleased with their presentation.


Ms. Lucria and I were not off the hook when the boys were done. The host of the Young Reader Pavilion, the founder of Just Us Books (, engaged us with some provocative questions about our program and the importance of promoting literacy among boys of color.


The heat was oppressive, but many of us stayed for the presentation by the next author, Ty Allan Jackson. He read his newest book, When I Close My Eyes, which is beautifully illustrated and encourages young children to use their imaginations. We enjoyed the presentation, but we were actually expecting to hear about Mr. Jackson’s first book, Danny Dollar, Millionaire Extraordinaire - The Lemonade Escape ( No worries. We just went down to the booth for his publishing company, BiG HeAd BoOks ( What a treat! There was a stand-up cut-out of Danny Dollar there to greet us, we got autographed copies of both books and we met the BiG HeAd BoOks team. It was a highlight of the event for many of us.


Another highlight was meeting Jerry Craft, illustrator of the syndicated comic strip Mama's Boyz ( His autographs are awesome because each one includes an illustration. Mr. Craft shared his booth with author Sabrina Carter, whose book he illustrated. Ms. Carter is from our area, and her book, Please Don’t Yell at We!, has been sold in local businesses around town. It was really a pleasure meeting both of them.


After visiting these booths, we headed to Dinosaur BBQ for lunch. We had a great time there, and some of the kids even went to the park together afterwards. This was a great outing that will surely bring fond memories whenever it comes to mind.

We'll Have What He's Having!

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM Comments comments (3)

On Wednesday evening, my boys and I went to the Letter Rip meeting to talk about our presentation at the Harlem Book Fair and the submission process for our fourth book. After the meeting, we went inside the library so Amir could update his library reading log. The librarian mentioned that there was a book buddy there who could read to Amir. (Book buddies are older children, grades six and up, who sign up with the library to read to younger children.)


How happy I was to discover that the book buddy that evening was a young brother who will be in the seventh grade in the fall. With a little encouragement, Amir allowed the book buddy to read a book he was returning. Then he picked out a new book and had the book buddy read that to him too.


My heart was bursting to see this young boy acting as a literacy champion. I had to ask him a few questions, and here’s what I found:


  • He signed up for the program on his own because he really wanted to do it. He wanted to do it last year too, but at the time you had to be a rising seventh grader. He felt cheated when he learned that the library had lowered the grade requirement this year.
  • He’s enrolled in the library’s summer reading program but hasn’t been keeping up with the log. “I’ve read way more than I’ve put on my log,” he reported, sounding enthusiastic about the amount of reading he’s done.
  • He loves reading.
  • He doesn’t like writing as much, but he does keep a journal because “it’s important to remember what happened.”

Oh my goodness! I want to bottle this part of him and give it to all our boys. Well, in my own way, I really am trying to do that.


Parents, it’s OK if our boys aren’t completely self-motivated yet. If we keep encouraging them, we’re certainly planting the right seeds. So as we wait to see more of the fruits of our labor, I will delight in the memory of this young boy who has provided a glance at what our harvest might include: reading for pleasure, writing for personal benefit and volunteering to help others. Oh yes, we want that, too!


The Workout Kid and Other Boys Doing Big Things

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 21, 2011 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Our boys are really cool, but there are some other boys out there who are also doing some really cool things. I just found out about The Workout Kid, CJ Senter ( This 10-year-old has his own workout DVD! From the videoclip I watched, it looks fun and has some cool graphics.

I think it’s really important to expose our boys to kids like themselves who are already turning their interests and abilities into noteworthy accomplishments. Childhood is precious, and it’s important to have time to just be a kid . . . but it’s never too early to start doing big things. With great parental support, our kids can achieve so much!

Links to the Workout Kid Web site and an article about CJ are posted on our Links page under “Other Boys Doing Cool Things.” There’s also information about other young movers and shakers, like a 14-year-old who invented a surgical technique and a 9-year-old who developed an application for the iPad.

The Links page is a great resource with video clips of other impressive young boys, articles for parents, and information about reading programs with incentives from organizations like Barnes & Noble, Chuck E. Cheese’s and NY Knicks/NY Liberty. Check it out at


North Carolina Members Get Out and About!

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 18, 2011 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Members of the North Carolina LDP group are actively participating in the program and bringing our theme to life! It's so exciting to see them embrace what we're doing in New Jersey and provide a memorable experience for their boys! Lead Parent Sharon Braxton sent the following report about their recent field trip:

On Friday, July 15, 2011, the members of the Cool Boys Read(TM) Long Distance Program North Carolina chapter visited the Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) Observation Park. The weather was a beautiful 80 degrees, a quite unusual treat for North Carolina in the middle of summer. The members, Caleb and Keith, were accompanied by their mothers, Sharon and Laura, and siblings Marley and Martin. The park is equipped with a playground, picnic tables, a “runway,” several concrete posts with history about the airport and an observation deck.

The Observation Park is a great place to visit for plane enthusiasts of all ages. The views from the Observation Park overlook RDU’s longest runway. The park is located near the Air Traffic Control Tower and Park and Ride 2. One of the things the boys found fascinating was that we could overhear direct communication from the control tower to pilots! We watched the planes take off and land. We learned some interesting facts about the history of RDU. RDU’s inaugural flight was May 1, 1943. The first terminal was a military barrack that was converted into a lobby, two offices and a radio room--quite different from today‘s airport, which is on 20,000 acres of land with two main terminals.

We had a wonderful day despite a wasp sting. It was great to visit and discover the RDU Observation Park, one of our city’s treasures. We ended our trip with lunch at Jason’s Deli.

Check out the pictures in our Photo Gallery (

Harlem Book Fair: It's Our World!

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 18, 2011 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On Sunday afternoon, the founder of the Harlem Book Fair called to invite Cool Boys Read™ members to participate in the program at the Young Readers Pavilion. What an exciting opportunity for the boys and for the organization!

Our theme for this year, "It’s Our Community, It’s Our World," was inspired by the idea of providing opportunities for the boys to explore local attractions and attend community events. I didn’t imagine that we would participate on this level at this time . . . but here we are! HOW EXCITING!



Our Own Pavilion at the Harlem Book Fair?

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 14, 2011 at 6:41 PM Comments comments (0)

So after calling the Harlem Book Fair (again) to try to get the schedule for the Young Readers' Pavilion, the organizer said that they were working on it diligently . . . just for me. (Yes, I've called a few times. LOL!) Then he joked that they were going to rename the whole pavilion for me. I suggested we call it "The Cool Boys Read Pavilion." Sounds good, doesn't it? Maybe one day . . . :).

Anyway, we'll finalize our plans as soon as we get the schedule of activities for Cool Boys and other young readers!

I'm looking forward to our trip and hope you are too!

It's Our Community! Our Nature Walk at Indian Pond

Posted by Susan Herriott on July 9, 2011 at 7:08 PM Comments comments (2)

In keeping with this year's theme, "It's Our Community, It's Our World," we had our first field trip today--a nature walk at Indian Pond hosted by the Friends of the Hackensack River Greenway. (Pics are posted in our Photo Gallery.)

Apparently the event hadn't been promoted in the newspaper, so the organizers were very happy and excited to have us there. I think it was a much bigger turnout than they expected. Ten Cool Boys Read(TM) members and 11 of their family members were in attendance--a very nice showing.

The walk itself was very pleasant. The leader of the walk, Marcia Strean, pointed out many plants with medicinal purposes and some we definitely want to avoid--like POISON IVY. One parent took thorough notes and some samples! One of the Cool Boys took some samples too, and I hear he is going to test out some of the properties of the plants. Hey, Cool Boys aren't just readers; they are scientists, too!

In addition to learning about the plant life, we learned a little bit about the Hackensack River, which is on one side of the path. Indian Pond is on the other side of the path. Tributaries from the Hackensack River were used to feed another stream, and that's how man-made Indian Pond was created. (I hope I got that explanation right because one of the gentlemen from the Friends of the Greenway kept insisting that we were going to have a test on what we learned. He was kidding, of course. And while I do hope the boys learned something, I think we'll save all the testing for school!)

In terms of our interest in capturing great photos, the setting was very, very green. There weren't a lot of flowers in bloom to create points of interest, and we only spotted one bird far out on the Hackensack River--an egret. Even so, Amir had a couple of interesting shots, so hopefully some of the older kids were able to get a few good ones, too.

If you've never been to Indian Pond, it's definitely worth a visit. I plan to go back in the fall when the foliage will create a spectacular view!

The Bolts and the Bee

Posted by Susan Herriott on June 28, 2011 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Move over Akeelah! The Lightning Bolts just had their first spelling bee, and it sounds like it was a hit!

Group Leader Lucria Ortiz was ecstatic about the results. Here's what she had to say:

Just wanted to report that the Spelling Bee was great!  We had 6 rounds where each player accumulated points for correct words, instead of an elimination bee.  The boys selected words for each other, and they were not easy.  Jaden and Malcolm tied to win the bee.  Some of the words spelled by our boys were "automobile," "material," "replacement," "reunion" and "adventures." 

The parents enjoyed this just as much as the boys, and I've decided to add a word of the day to the start of each of our meetings.

For me it's just so exciting to see all the Cool Boys actively and enthusiastically participating in activities that will help them retain or enhance their academic abilities.

School may be out, but learning is always in . . . especially when you make it fun. That's what Cool Boys Read(TM) is all about!