ITHACA, N.Y. — Kids can sing along with the book-loving duo John Simon and Cal Walker with the launch of the new series, “Sing Me A Story! Read Me A Song!” organized by the Children’s Reading Connection.

The free event begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 in the Greater Ithaca Activities Center gym. Kids can read and sing along with Simon and Walker to books including, “Brown Bear,” “Chicka Chick Boom Boom,” “Inch by Inch,” “Hush!” “Up, Up, Up!” “The Bus For Us,” and “All the Colors of the Earth.” The event Saturday will kick off a series of free public performances geared toward families with young children.

“Sing Me A Story! Read Me A Song!” is a national pilot initiative of the Children’s Reading Connection, based in Ithaca, which was founded by Brigid Hubberman. With CRC, Hubberman wants to “inspire, create, and promote efforts that build a culture of family and community literacy.” CRC is also dedicated to developing pilot models that can be replicated by other communities.

Hubberman, who has about 20 years of community literacy work, founded the Children’s Reading Connection in 2017. She stressed the importance that children not only grow up with high-quality books in their lives but also surrounded by an “abundance of loving words,” which she said are essential nourishment for a baby’s brain.

Hubberman is currently seeking funding to get the set of books (listed above) and audio recordings to all pre-kindergarten and Head Start children in Tompkins County.

Hubberman calls Simon and Walker “reading rockstars” or “book brothers.” Simon and Walker have spread their passion for reading and singing to children locally for years. In the past as part of the Family Reading Partnership, they performed renditions of picture books to children in school or early childhood centers.

Simon said he loves bringing books to life for children. “In these times of technological absorption, it feels more important than ever to help provide tools and materials that can bring families together. We’ve got an exciting set of books and songs to spread and I’m grateful to the Children’s Reading Connection for giving us an opportunity to work our magic together,” Simon said.

Walker, who founded Village at Ithaca, said, “I frequently read aloud to my children as they were growing up, and recall with fondness the excitement and joy it brought to them – and to me! I feel a similar excitement performing with my longtime friend, the phenomenal John Simon, as we continue reading and singing to – and with – children and families throughout our community and beyond. It’s a special blessing to engage the community in such a fun, collaborative and affirming way, and I’m very excited about the launch of our latest project, Sing Me a Story! Read Me a Song!”

Hubberman said songs can bring reading to another level. She said she would like to see singing and reading as parts of everyday life for families.

“Songs give families this way to carry rhyming and rhythm that takes it to another level and will enrich the book,” she said.

The books included in “Sing Me A Story! Read Me A Song!” will be available at the Tompkins County Public Library and available at Buffalo Street Books.

The event begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 in the GIAC gym, located at 301 W. Court St., Ithaca. To learn more about the Children’s Reading Connection, visit the website or contact Brigid Hubberman at brigid.hubberman@childrensreadingconnection.org.

Featured photo: From left, John Simon and Cal Walker. (Photo by Edna Brown)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.