Literacy + Exercise = Literacise at the Boston Public Library

Research confirms that increased exercise helps young children improve their concentration, boosts reading comprehension, and raises academic achievement. The new Literacise exhibit opening at the Boston Public Library builds on this important connection between physical activity and learning.

Literacise is an interactive children’s exhibit in English and Spanish. It is inspired by Irene Smalls’ story Jonathan and His Mommy. In the story, a young boy and his mother travel together through Boston’s South End neighborhood taking steps of all sizes. Literacise brings the book to life – and to kid-size scale – on the first floor of the Central Library in Copley Square where children will be able to zig-zag, bunny- hop, and giant-step their way through the interactive exhibit.

Literacise, made possible through the generous support of State Street Corporation, opens to the public with a special celebration on Saturday, October 3 at 11:30am. Mayor Thomas M. Menino will be in attendance and arts and entertainment critic Joyce Kulhawik will serve as emcee. Irene Smalls is a long-time literacy educator and based this creative endeavor on scientific research that indicates that physical exercise can reduce obesity and result in increased academic achievement.


In effect, literacy, plus exercise, equals Literacise. Author Smalls said, “Literacise is book-based, book-related exercise that uses the music and motion of story to teach and to reach. It engages children with reading using a brain, body, and book connection. Children learn more when they are moving and having fun.” With tunnels to explore and secrets to find, children will experience reading in a completely new way.

Parents and guardians will also be able to enjoy Literacise and will be able to borrow other activity- themed Boston Public Library books to share and experience with their young friends. “The Boston Public Library is delighted to share the concept of Literacise with our ever-growing community of users,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “We are committed to providing innovative paths to the advancement of learning and Literacise does exactly that. By engaging families in activating a book, Literacise engages us all in activating our minds.”

The opening celebration will include a costumed character parade and a fashion show of Literacise- inspired active wear. Irene Smalls will be part of the ribbon cutting ceremony along with Mayor Menino; Koren Stembridge, Director of Partnerships and Communications at the Boston Public Library; and George Russell Jr., Executive Vice President and Director of State Street’s Community Affairs group. “Engaging children early in healthy habits such as exercise and reading has a long-term positive impact on a person’s life,” said Russell. “With our community support focus on education and workforce development, State Street is pleased to partner with the Literacise exhibit and promote these building- blocks of success from child- to adulthood.”

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The Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street, is open Monday-Thursday, 9am- 9pm; and Friday and Saturday, 9am-5pm. Beginning October 4, the Library will be open on Sundays, 1- 5pm. Literacise is scheduled to be on display at the Boston Public Library through March 2010. It was designed by representatives of the Boston Community Design Resource Center. For further information about the Literacise exhibit, visit Admission to Literacise is free.

About Author IRENE SMALLS:

Award-winning Author Irene Smalls says she became an author in kindergarten when 5 year-old Smalls was taught the beauty of language through songs, games, and dance. In kindergarten, she was taught “reading was a thing that you did that was loud and fun.” Literacise is the science based extension of that powerful introduction. Irene is the author of 15 children’s books and 3 interactive storytelling CDs. Smalls travels the world from China to Chicago presenting author programs and “literacising.” She has twice been invited to the White House. “You’ll get the rhythm of the feet” with Irene’s moving approach to reading books. With a degree from Cornell University and an MBA, Irene Smalls has twenty years experience working with children. Learn more at or


State Street Corporation (NYSE: STT) is the world’s leading provider of financial services to institutional investors including investment servicing, investment management and investment research and trading. With $16.4 trillion in assets under custody and administration and $1.6 trillion in assets under management at June 30, 2009, State Street operates in 27 countries and more than 100 geographic markets worldwide. For more information, visit State Street’s web site at


For more than 160 years, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Today, the Boston Public Library boasts a Central Library, 26 neighborhood branches, free Internet access, two unique restaurants, and a robust web site, Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts nearly 12,000 programs, answers more than one million reference questions, and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibits are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning.

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