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Bumpybooks Signing at the BookMark Shoppe

  by Brooklyn Eagle (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 04-30-2007.

Bay Ridge Reading Specialist Makes Unique Approach to Learning More Accessible BAY RIDGE — The BookMark Shoppe on Third Avenue was packed with parents and children on Saturday for a book signing by Ann Edwards, the creator of “Bumpybooks.”

As a teacher, mother of six and licensed reading specialist, Edwards decided to write a book that would help children learn to read by incorporating sight, hearing, movement and touch. The result is “Bumpybooks,” a delightful, 30-plus-page children’s book that is as much fun to read as it is to touch. “‘Bumpybooks’ is the first book of its kind that allows parents and teachers to use the unique, multi-sensory approach to learning,” said Edwards, who lives in Bay Ridge and has worked as an educational therapist and tutor for the last 15 years.

Edwards is a certified Orton-Gillingham practitioner, which is a multi-sensory reading approach based on the phonetic structure of the language. But what was missing from the approach was an easy and attractive way for students to touch the letters they’re learning and a simple and concise set of instructions for parents to follow with their children.

“Until ‘Bumpybooks’ was created, multi-sensory techniques were available only through expensive and cumbersome kits, or by hiring professional and expensive teachers,” said Edwards, who gives lectures and seminars on emerging literacy.

Edwards called on her Jersey cousin Karen Goldberg, an artist, for help. “She called me and she asked me what we could use so that the kids could feel the letters,” said Goldberg, who has shown her paintings at the Montclair Art Museum and at the Essex Fine Art Gallery in Montclair. Goldberg said she thought of sandpaper, fur and rugs, but the materials were all too labor-intensive and expensive. Then she thought of the sweatshirts she makes for her kids out of puff paint. And “Bumpybooks” was born.

“This book really covers all the pathways, by linking sounds and symbols with how it feels to form letters,” said Goldberg, who was also able to help her cousin edit the parent instruction portion of the book. Each instructional page in “Bumpybooks” includes a picture of the letter the child is learning, and a short set of instructions on how to teach the child to touch and say the letter.

“If I’m going to buy this book, it has to be as easy as can be, “ said Goldberg, who has three school-aged children. “I don’t want a lot of instructions or a million little pieces, I just want my kid in my lap and a book we can read together.”

“Although “Bumpybooks” offers much needed aid for students who are struggling to read, it’s not just for children who need help,” said Edwards.

“Studies have shown that many early learners have weak visual and or auditory memories, and for them the sense of touch becomes necessary to their memory function. Research also suggests that repeated tactile sensations created by tracing on a textured surface produces impressions on the brain that never fully disappear,” said Edwards.

“We knew we had something good going,” said Goldberg, who added that “Bumpybooks” received high praise from major publishing houses, including Harper-Collins and Scholastic.

“Bumpybooks” even got the attention of Jed Mattes, the literary agent who represented the “Madeline” books by Ludwig Bemelmans and served as an agent for the works of Dr. Seuss. In a letter he wrote before he died in 2003, Mattes stated that “‘Bumpybooks’ is the first new product I’ve encountered that I think might have the capacity to be a genuine, long term phenomenon in the children’s reading development world. I consider it to be an authentically revolutionary concept and that it has great value in the publishing, merchandising and education fields.”

In June, the cousins hired Ondemand Printing, a Long Island City, N.Y., company, to print the first run of “Bumpybooks.”

In the meantime, Goldberg and Edwards aren’t resting. They’ve already started work on their next set of “Bumpybooks,” which will be “Bumpybooks” for numbers.

After that they plan to keep developing reading skills by having books on digraphs, consonant blends and all the components necessary for reading success.

Ann Edwards will be doing another signing for “Bumpybooks” on August 18th at the 7th Avenue Barnes &Noble in Park Slope. For more information on “Bumpybooks” or to buy a copy, go to the company’s web site, www.bumpybooks.com.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007 All materials posted on brooklyneagle.com are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published, broadcast, posted on Gotham Gazette.com or any other blog without written permission, which can be sought by emailing arturc@att.net.