Ready to Read Michigan: I Got the Rhythm

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

March 1, 2018

LANSING – Schoolchildren across the state will be discovering that a new early-literacy program, designed to celebrate books with everything from song to playtime, is fun and exciting, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

The Library of Michigan’s (LM) is rolling out its Ready to Read Michigan program by giving public libraries its inaugural title, I Got the Rhythm, authored by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by her husband, Frank Morrison, in their first collaboration.

“Ready to Read Michigan is designed to support public librarians as they model early-literacy skills for children up to five years old,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “It’s critically important that all children learn to read by the third-grade as part of our goal to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years, and this excellent program will help us achieve that goal.”

State Librarian Randy Riley said the program will help parents and caregivers learn the five practices of early literacy from the Public Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) program: Talk, Read, Play, Sing, and Write.

Michigan public libraries now are receiving copies of I Got the Rhythm to circulate, read aloud in story times, and use in programming during outreach to their patrons and to local communities.

Schofield-Morrison and Morrison will tour 10 areas of the state this month, sharing their picture book with kids as part of the Ready to Read Michigan program.

Schofield-Morrison is a mother, author, and entrepreneur. She spent most of her childhood reading and writing poetry, songs, and fairy tales. At 19, she married her high school sweetheart, Frank, a professional dancer.

In 1999, the couple started an online art gallery, Morrison Graphics, which became a brick-and-mortar gallery in 2005. Her debut picture book, I Got the Rhythm, was a Bank Street College of Education’s Best Book of the Year. She now is working on two sequels for Bloomsbury Publishing and has an upcoming historical biography picture book with Holiday House.

Growing up in New Jersey, Frank Morrison began developing his own style through ‘R.I.P’ art scenes that brought him considerable street recognition and local acclaim. But it wasn’t until he visited Paris’ Louvre Museum with his dancing group, that he realized painting was his true creative path.

His talent and hard work paid off with more than 20 illustrated children’s books, including the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner, Jazzy Miz Mozetta and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Little Melba and her Big Trombone.

Ready to Read Michigan is made possible by grant funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and administered by the State of Michigan through the LM. Additional support was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing, Consumers Energy and the Library of Michigan Foundation.

For more information about the program and about the I Got the Rhythm book tour, visit www.michigan.gov/readytoread.