YWCA literacy campaign continues with “Some Children’s Books I Want to Talk About”

Some Children’s Books I Want to Talk About

As the Pottstown YWCA’s literacy campaign winds to a close this Tuesday, I urge my readers and friends to show their support by visiting this link. There you will be asked to provide your email address in order for the YWCA to get $1 from an anonymous donor. Your email address will not be used by the Y or anyone!  While you’re at the link, please check the box that says you heard about this campaign from Positively Pottstown. The last day to show your support is this Tuesday, December 11th, so please do it now! I thank you, the YWCA thanks you, and all the folks who benefit from their literacy education, from infants through seniors, will thank you, too. Now, let’s take a moment to talk about some wonderful, must-have children’s books…

Photo from Powells.com
Photo from Powells.com

With the holiday season upon us – which means it’s time to buy books – perhaps you are wondering what to get for a child of your own, or your first grandchild, or all those nieces and nephews, or even the newborn of one of your co-workers.  Today I’m in the mood to reminisce about some of the classics that my family simply loved during the early years. We started reading to our sons pretty much immediately – well, probably as soon as they could hold their heads up at a couple months old and the fog from the netherworld of childbirth itself had started to clear.

Early on, we used to keep all the books – mostly board books, the ones made of sturdy cardboard with just a picture on each page – in a basket. Our oldest son is famous in our family for getting himself settled on the couch in the family room, clutching his teddy, pointing to the basket and commanding his uncle, who had come to babysit, to “Read!” They’d proceed to go through the entire basket. And then they’d do it again. This basket included Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, which is a “touch and feel” book because it’s got surfaces that an infant and toddler can touch to learn about how soft a bunny is or how scratchy daddy’s beard is.

The power of Pat the Bunny lies in how the story, such as it is, puts words to how these things feel. Like so many early childhood books, Pat the Bunny exposes children to the concept that everything around us has been named, and these names can be experienced by the sound of a parent’s voice, a picture that goes along with it, and those symbols and lines and shapes that are next to the picture – what we hope they will one day recognize as words, the very words their parent or grandparent or sibling has been saying all along. Board books and “touch and feel” books can be the foundation for literacy for the littlest people. Pat the Bunny was first published in 1940 and has sold more than 6 million copies. There’s now a whole series of Pat the Bunny books.

Photo from LittleOneBooks.com
Photo from LittleOneBooks.com

Another beloved classic is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s the perfect bedtime story. The whole message and tone of it, and the accompanying pictures, are intended to settle everyone down, as the bunny narrator slowly says goodnight to the moon and everything in the room. It’s one of the sweetest stories ever told. It was written in 1949 and it, too, is still going strong.

Photo from LittleOneBooks.com
Photo from LittleOneBooks.com

Speaking of the moon, you might want to consider a copy of Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, for ages 5+. It’s about a girl and her dad, who go out on a snowy night to see if they can spot an owl. This is another great bedtime book because it’s quiet and poetic. (How could you spot an owl otherwise?) Here’s an unforgettable quote: “Somewhere behind us a train whistle blew, long and low, like a sad, sad song.” Okay, this is making me cry… I once heard the aforementioned son whispering those words to himself in the tub when he was just a toddler, and I knew then that he was taking everything in; a child’s mind is a kind of sponge.  (This sponge business isn’t all daisies and sunshine, though. Shortly thereafter I heard him, once again in the tub, repeating the invectives I had hurled at the broken vacuum cleaner earlier in the day. Mommy had to clean up her potty-mouth after that.)

Moving on in years, another sweet series by Arnold Lobel involves two best friends named Frog and Toad, who have adventures and share things and show what friendship is all about. There is a gentleness to both their natures that is a healthy antidote to the “real” world. Be sure to start out with Frog and Toad Are Friends. The books are billed as early readers, but this is also a great series to read aloud to younger children who are able to sit still a little longer and are ready for a longer story.

Photo from Powells.com
Photo from Powells.com

Well, I could go on and on and on. There are so many fantastic books out there and, I’m sure, some fantastic children in your life who you’d love to share them with. This holiday season, consider checking  out your local book store, talking to the sales people, putting together a little library, and bringing the joy and wonder of stories and language to a child near you.

And please, please plug your email address in at this link to ensure the Pottstown YWCA’s literacy program gets one more dollar from their anonymous donor and many more folks in our region will get the chance to learn to read and write. Thank you.

Lots of holiday activities for the family in downtown Pottstown from 4-8pm TODAY!

Oh, the weather outside may be frightful but there’s a full slate of holiday fun in downtown Pottstown today from 4-8 pm. These and similar activities will also be taking place next Friday and Saturday, December 14 & 15.

Check out the Pottstown Downtown Improvement Authority website here for all the details!

SANTA’S VILLAGE is open with Santa, kids’ crafts, reindeer food-making & coloring contest. Location: 139 E. High Street (TANGO MARKETING)
Photos with Santa ($7)
Horse-drawn wagon/wagonette rides from 5-7 pm ($7)
Story Time at The Babysitter’s Clubhouse (333 HIGH ST), every hour starting at 4:30 and last story at 7:30pm
FREE Trolley Rides from 4:30-8PM
DISCOUNTED BABYSITTING at The Babysitter’s Clubhouse at 133 E HIGH ST
Contact: The Sitter’s Clubhouse – by phone 610.326.7600 – by email thesittersclubhouse@gmail.com
ROASTED CHESTNUTS AND MORE from Empire Hook & Ladder Fire Company (300 block of E. High Street.)

Come out for some good, old-fashioned family holiday fun!

Historic House Tours set for this Sunday afternoon in Pottstown

I don’t know how my mom and I are going to get to all these houses on Sunday, but we’re going to do our darnedest to make it happen.

The Historic Pottstown Neighborhood Association presents its Historic Pottstown by Candlelight tour tomorrow, December 9th from 1-6 pm. This tour has been organized in a big way, once again, by Sue & Bill Krause, some of Pottstown’s long-standing, extraordinary volunteers.

Tickets/brochures can be purchased ahead of time TODAY for $12 at Carter’s Locksmith Shop, 127 N. Hanover St., or Pottstown Florist at 300 High St. Otherwise, it will cost you $13 on the day of the tour TOMORROW and then you can only purchase a ticket at Carter’s.

DETAILS: There is a trolley to take you around to most of these buildings. When you get your ticket, you can get the full scoop. Note that there is a Victorian Tea held by the Doe Club at the Elks Lodge #814 at 61 E. High Street from noon-2pm only. Refreshments and lavatories are at Zion’s United Church of Christ at 100 N. Hanover St. (built in 1796). There will be a Live Nativity on the lawn next to Emmanuel Lutheran from 2:30-4:30, weather permitting.

Twenty – 20! – buildings are on this year’s tour. I’ve scanned part of the brochure (see below) so you can check out the buildings and descriptions here. (See above. You MUST have a ticket/brochure to enter any of these buildings tomorrow afternoon!) There are plenty of newcomers… just a few… the Alumni Chapel and Memorial Hall at the Hill School; The Highland House, recently purchased by Wyndcroft School; the former Dr. Porter house at 344 E. High Street; a home on Queen Street in the East End with original woodwork and hardwood floors, representing the beauty of so much of Pottstown’s brick twin housing stock and many, many more. And if that’s not enough, don’t forget about Pottstgrove Manor, the historic home of the founder of our dear town, John Potts…

According to the estimable Evan Brandt in this Mercury article, “From 2 to 8 p.m., Pottsgrove Manor’s annual “Twelfth Night” tours, which continue until Jan. 6, will be transformed into a “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight” tour at the historic residence, 100 King St.

A donation of $2 is suggested for this event.

For this one-night-only event, costumed interpreters will portray colonial guests of John Potts, the ironmaster who founded Pottstown and built his mansion in 1752.

As visitors make their way through the house, they will hear the strains of music played on historical instruments, see English country dancing, catch a whiff of the delicious smells in the kitchen as historical cook, Deborah Peterson, prepares a colonial feast, play traditional tavern games, and enjoy the beauty of the mansion lit by candlelight and bedecked with greenery.

Next door to the mansion, in the Miller’s House, young visitors can make free colonial crafts to take home, and complimentary seasonal refreshments of hot spiced cider and cookies will be served.

Outside in the manor’s courtyard, visitors will be able to warm themselves by a bonfire (weather permitting) and enjoy historic carols sung by the Colonial Revelers singing group between 2 and 4 p.m.

Visitors are asked to park at the Carousel at Pottstown building, 30 West King Street; a shuttle will transport visitors to and from Pottsgrove Manor throughout the event. Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.”


Choose & cut your own Christmas tree at Pine Hill Farm

Photo courtesy of Pine Hill Tree Farm
Photo courtesy of Pine Hill Tree Farm

Christmas tree season is upon us, and Pine Hill Choose-N-Cut Christmas Tree Farm on Sheep Hill Road in North Coventry has a bumper crop of trees ready in the fields.  The basic price is still $25 – as has been the case for over 20 years.  They  do have some larger and more perfect specimens individually priced higher.  But they still have loads of trees at $25.

You can do all that at the Pine Hill Choose-N-Cut Christmas Tree Farm on Sheep Hill Road in North Coventry. Pine Hill has been run by the Sally and Dick Heylmun family for 50 years. And for the past 21 years, they have  held their prices steady at $25 a tree.

Pine Hill is just 2 miles from downtown Pottstown, yet has that full country atmosphere.  Mrs. Heylmun still mows around the trees, shears them, and generally oversees the care of the farm, keeping the place like a lawn.  Having raised 5 boys on a teacher’s pay, the Heylmuns know what it costs to raise a family, and they have refused to raise prices.

The Pine Hill website provides nice photos and descriptions of the various trees and their needles, so you can decide ahead of time what kind of tree you’re interested in.

Sensory-friendly visit with Santa sponsored by A-Team of Pottstown and YMCA

The A-Team Pottstown and the Pottstown/Freedom Valley YMCA are happy to provide a sensory-friendly experience for your child to visit Santa.

Sometimes children with special needs, such as autism, just cannot tolerate crowds of people, loud sounds or waiting in line for a turn.

This sensory-friendly experience will allow children to take part in a cherished childhood rite of passage on Sunday, December 16th from 1pm to 3pm.

Full Y members are free; all others are $5. There will be a snack, a craft, and photos with Santa. Photos are courtesy of Kaptured by Kat Photography. Please note that space is limited and you must call the Y at 610-323-7300 to reserve your child’s spot. The Y is located at 724 N. Adams Street in Pottstown.

This is opening weekend for Annie, the musical, at Steel River Playhouse!

This comes to us via Steel River Playhouse at 245 E. High Street in downtown Pottstown…

Annie, a uniquely American story about survival, pluck, second chances, generosity and triumph, opened at Steel River Playhouse this past Thursday.   This Broadway sensation, ripped from the pages of a comic strip, won three Tony Awards.

Annie is a spunky orphan with infectious, unbeatable optimism and moxie. She’s determined to find her parents, who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City orphanage run by the cruel and bitter Miss Hannigan.  She does escape, but is caught and returned, only to be selected as the needy child who’d stay at billionaire Daddy Warbucks’ mansion during the holidays.  Shenanigans ensue, relationships grow, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Secret Service join the fray!

Planning Information
Annie will be performed on our Main Stage

  • Thursdays (Dec. 6, 13, 20 at 7:30PM),
  • Fridays (Dec.  7, 14, 21 at 8PM),
  • Saturday (Dec. 22, at 3PM)
  • Saturdays (Dec. 8, 22 at 8PM)*
  • Sundays (Dec. 9, 16, 23 at 3PM)

*There will be no performance Saturday, Dec. 15.  An added matinee performance will be held Dec. 22 at 3PM.  Tickets for the 12/22 matinee may not be currently available due to a large group order, but please  check back after Dec. 6 if this is your only available date .

Single Ticket Prices      

Adult  –             $26  ($23 on Thurs.)
Senior (65+)  –   23  ($20  on Thurs.)
Student/Child – 17   ($15 on Thurs)

  • Groups of 10 or more – $3 off per ticket
  • Buy online or at box office – same price

Special Event: Sunday, December 9 – Talkback with the director and cast.  An opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

About Annie
Based on the Tribune Media Service Comic Strip, Little Orphan Annie
Book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin

Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International, http://www.MTIShows.com

And, presented with the support of the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts

The Music of Annie

The beautiful voices of our Annie cast will be complemented by our accomplished pit orchestra.  At Steel River Playhouse, high-quality, live music is an important part of the musical experience.

Director – Ken Kaissar

This Steel River Playhouse production is being directed by Ken Kaissar.  His directing work has been seen in New York at The Culture Project, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, The American Globe Theatre, Theatre Row, and The Epiphany Theatre Company where he directed a production of the Ibsen classic, A Doll’s House.  In March 2010, Ken directed Noises Off at Steel River Playhouse.

An accomplished playwright, Ken was commissioned by Columbia University to adapt The Canterbury Tales to the stage.  His ten-minute play Ceasefire (written in response to Israel’s war with Hezbollah in 2006) was an official selection in the 2012 New Works Festival at the Fusion Theatre Company; it also was a winner of the West Boca New Play Competition and a regional winner in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

An acting coach, working with up and coming talent in New York and Pennsylvania, Ken also teaches at Steel River Playhouse.

About Steel River Playhouse

Formerly Tri-County Performing Arts Center (Tri-PAC), Steel River Playhouse, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, seeks to strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and education for diverse audiences.  Each year, the Steel River Playhouse produces more than 90 performances and hosts more than 10,000 people as audiences, students, artists, donors and volunteers from throughout the region. We offer performance opportunities through open auditions; theater technical training; acting, voice, and instrumental lessons; classes and workshops for all ages; summer camp programs; and educational outreach including scholarships, artists in the classroom, traveling children’s shows, and other initiatives. For further information, visit www.steelriver.org, or call 610-970-1199.

Elks Doe Club holds Annual Cookie Walk & Soup Sale this Saturday

The Elks Doe Club Annual Cookie Walk and Soup Sale
Saturday December 8, 2012
9 AM to 12 Noon
Lobby of the Elks Lodge
61 High Street
Pottstown, Pa
Open to the public to come out and purchase some extra cookies and soup to have on hand for the holiday season!
All cookies and soups are homemade.
Cookies are $7.00 per pound and soup is $7.00 per quart.
This is a fundraiser for the Doe Club.

Holiday Happenings at Pottstown Regional Public Library!

Holiday Happenings!

For families of all ages.

Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 1 pm.

Pottstown Regional Public Library will be hosting a Holiday Party!

There will be:

A musical performance


Fun activities recognizing Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa

The event is FREE!

Please contact Leslie Stillings for more details:

Pottstown Regional Public Library

500 E. High St.

Pottstown, Pa. 19464


holiday happenings 2012

Holiday shopping at Grace Lutheran’s craft show this Saturday

A craft show and bake sale will be held at Grace Lutheran Church on Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Santa will be there from 11 am until 1 pm for the young and young at heart.

This is an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and all bake sale proceeds will benefit Pottstown Relay for Life.

Grace Lutheran Church is located at 660 N. Charlotte Street in the North End of Pottstown.

Free parking is available in their spacious lot.

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