Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Aesop's Fables - 24 sculptures by Nancy Schon

Sunday, November 29, 2015

From the Musical "Wicked": "I have been changed for good."

Because I know you....
I have been changed for good.
The mentors and interns who are lucky to work with these students....
all feel the same way...
that there is a human potential here..
that we must tap into and 
make this world a better place.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

REAL Thanks

Thank you to the local community support for The REAL Program. We are grateful for the generosity and attention from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, Salem Five Bank, TD Bank and St. John's Episcopal Church of Beverly Farms. Your support makes a REAL difference in the lives of children and families in our community. 

We look forward to seeing many supporters and friends at the REAL Night Out on Saturday night, 10/24 at Glen Urquhart School, 74 Hart St., Beverly Farms.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Are you Swanky enough? Do you want to have fun, listen to great music and maybe even dance a bit? Do you want to learn more about how you can help make a difference in the lives of children who need more access to books? What are your questions about The REAL Program?

Come and find out on Saturday, 10/24 at Glen Urquhart School, 74 Hart St., Beverly Farms from 6:00-10:00 pm. Tickets are available on line at at our SWANKY new website!

Bring a table of eight and decorate your table with art from your favorite children's book!
Here are some of the fun titles happening so far:
Rainbow Fish
Miss Rumphius
Where the Wild Things Are
The Kissing Hand
Maniac McGee
Fancy Nancy

Friday, October 2, 2015

Getting excited to work with BRIO Integrated Theatre for REAL again

The REAL Program is excited to have the opportunity to work with Sahar Ahmed of BRIO Ingegrated Theatre and a team of artists to sing and dance at The REAL Program in the next few weeks!
Watch for more posts about this fantastic fun!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Are you Swanky Enough?

Don Kelley, #REAL Auctioneer
Don Kelley, well-known charity auctioneer is on hand to help make this year's #REALnightOUT fun and successful on Saturday night, 10/24 at Glen Urquhart School, 74 Hart St., Beverly Farms. 
Our Second Annual REAL Night Out features a new and creative twist: Supporters are encouraged to bring a group of 8 people and decorate their table in the image of one of their favorite children's books. On the day of the fundraiser, teams are invited to come between the hours of 10 and 2 to compete for the best decorated table. 
First prize is dinner for 8 at your home and cooked by one of our expert chefs (for #REAL). Second prize is a Downton Abby Tea Party at your home catered by the #REAL tea party family. The competition will be judged by interior designer Janice Tranos and her committee of artists. All of this will be live-streamed and you will even be able to bring your props to our #REAL photo booth. The silent auction will take place from 6:00-7:30 during which time you will be able to dine on fabulous appetizers provided by Kelly's Roast Beef and quench your thirst all night long with "bottomless" glass choices of beer or wine. Merchant Liquors of Danvers is providing the refreshments. the Pocket Change Trio will entertain us with live music until the dinner hour. The attention will turn to Mr. Kelley to help us raise money and have fun at the LIVE AUCTION. A music DJ with light show will back up the auctioneer. A special treat is still in store for you, so don't be too late to purchase your ticket to the REAL NIGHT OUT! Get Swanky!
Hope you can join us!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What The REAL Program means to Families!

 The Real Program has been a blessing for us. There are many reasons why we send our son, Manny, to the program. However, the reason that is probably most important to us is that we feel completely comfortable knowing that our son is in a safe learning environment. In the past we had looked at other after school programs in the area, and we noticed that education was not really a concern.    
    The children at these other programs were running wild with minimal supervision, and no structure. Many of the children were using language that was inappropriate, and appeared to have little to no understanding of the word respect. We love knowing that the staff, and the children that go to The Real Program share the same family values that we do, and we don't have to worry that our son will be exposed to behavior that is not accepted at our home.
    We are so grateful to have The Real Program and the staff, without it our son would probably not be able to read as well as he does.
'Thank you,
Manny & Tricia Gasca

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Labor Day from The REAL Program!

Summer at The REAL Program featured interns from near and far from all over the world to work with children and families in Lynn.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#REAL Announcement

Join us on Friday, 8/28/15 at 9:15 am for the #REAL fancy ribbon cutting ceremony at Lynncommunityhealth​ center as we install a @real_lynn #LITTLEFREELIBRARY in the waiting room of the OB-GYN department. GET #FREE #books and #refreshments.

The REAL Program is proud to be part of the #community

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What We Did This Summer At The REAL Program!

We had visits from authors and illustrators!
We gave out books at the Lynn Farmer's Market
We went on a bus to the Book Shop of Beverly Farms and St. John's Episcopal Church where we had a snack on the lawn and had a teddy bear picnic at the shop.
We bought our own brand new book!
We had music with Dara van Remoortel
We created art, more art, even more art with Svenja, Pat and Melody
We gave out books at Lynn Farmers Market in a tribute to Mason Silva.
Thank you to the family of Mason Silva for collecting all the books
for children.

We created a raised box garden and planted vegetables and flowers
We made water walls with Victoria Hackett
We played chess, checkers, mancala, HeadBandz
We went to Red Rock Park
We met friends from Govs Plus
We met friends from Spain, Germany and ALL OVER THE US!
We played Four Square!
We had English classes.
We read books!
We wrote stories.
We did our summer reading for school
We visited Salem State University! What a great library!
We took a train from Lynn to Salem and we went to the Peabody Essex Museum!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The REAL Program- Mission to improve Literacy

After three and a half weeks of The REAL Program this summer we have had the good fortune of working with highly dedicated and enthusiastic people of all ages. Here is how it has worked for us this year:  The children that attend The REAL Program now identify themselves as students. The teens who have volunteered now identify themselves as interns. The "more experienced" teachers refer to themselves as mentors. We have built new vocabularies, new communities and relationships and we have learned about people from all over the world and all over the country. All of this has been working on projects that have an underlying theme of literacy.

The high school aged interns have come to us from our own communities of Lynn, Beverly and Swampscott. Other high school students have come from a Rotary Exchange from Germany; a personal family exchange from Spain, New York state and from a Youth Works that brought us mentors and interns from Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Louisiana and Connecticut. College aged mentors come from Ohio University, North Shore Community College and Bridgewater State University.
The REAL Program recently honored Mason Silva on a REAL book Give away at the Lynn Farmer's Market. Mason 's family was there to receive flowers and gratitude for helping other children have access to beautiful new children's books.
We gave out nearly 2000 children's books in two hours. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

First 3 Weeks of Summer at The REAL Program 2015

Making their own "Pajamas of My Dreams" projects with help from teen interns. Author/illustrator visit by Laurie Collins and Margie Florini provided a wonderful presentation and inspiration. 

Youth Works Willie and REAL Eduardo resting up for the next activity at The REAL Program

REAL students engineering a water wall with recyclables inspired by Victoria Hackett

Youth Works John and REAL student, Nilton, share in a story.

REAL moms help plant flowers 

Emily, William, Jonathan, Stephanie, Zekai share a book

Angelli reading to Madison

Piper at Farmer's Market, Lynn

Youth Works volunteer, Emily, shares a story

The REAL Program at Farmer's Market giving out BOOKS

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tribute to Mason SIlva Book Give Away with The REAL Program in Lynn

Recently, the family of Mason Silva delivered the most incredible gift of beautiful new children's books to The REAL Program as a tribute to their little boy whose life was cut short by childhood cancer. Mason's family orchestrated a collection of children's books to share Mason's love for having someone read to him.
This Thursday, 7/23, please join us at the Lynn Farmer's Market in Central Square at 11:00 for the Tribute to Mason's Free Book Give Away. The REAL Program is honored to help this family give away nearly 2,000 children's books. The REAL Program and Lynn READS are giving away books at the Farmer's Market every Thursday and at St. Stephen's Food Pantry every Friday.
The Lynn Farmer's Market and The Food Project is open from 11:00-3:00.

Please join us!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Thank you to Family and Friends of @MasonSilva

The plans we have for the summer this year are so exciting! We plan to work with 40 students, 15 interns, 15 parents, 5 mentors and guest artists who have prepared the most amazing things for our REAL students and families. We have beautiful new books and we are especially grateful to the family of @MasonSilva. 
Thank you to this thoughtful family. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Excited to go to Youth at Risk Conference at #EndicottCollege

The REAL Program will be just one of many people who dedicate their lives to helping to improve the lives of others at this year's 15th annual Youth At Risk Conference sponsored by Essex County Community Foundation. This day filled with workshops is held on the beautiful campus of #Endicott College.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

#REAL End of Spring Semester 2015

The REAL Program group walking from the Brickett School to 151 Ocean St. on our final day of the spring semester 2015. Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Meet Zach the rescue dog who has travelled a long way to be with The REAL Program family.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National THANK Your Volunteers Week!

Thank you 

to the incredible volunteers 
who dedicate time, expertise, 
enthusiasm and care 
to the students and families of 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#Pingree School Students with Katherine Gasper (artist in residence)

#Pingree School student volunteers at #Tracy School, Lynn with big smiles after working with young students.

Weaving and Teaching in a Note from Katherine Gasper

Several months ago when I was asked by my amazing friend, Jan Plourde, to participate in the Tracy-Pingree partnership, I was excited at the prospect of working with high school and elementary students in a creative, hands on way.  The two weeks in March proved to be not only enjoyable, but also reassuring that creativity is alive and well in our youth!

As a former teacher myself, I was amazed and delighted to observe the deep level of engagement the elementary students of Tracy exhibited as they explored materials, interacted with each other and the high school students, and created individual works of art.  As an artist and weaver, I marveled at the attention to detail the young students showed in learning the techniques of weaving on a loom and the Japanese braiding method of Kumihimo..  Tracy students made choices about color, design, and purpose for their creations with enthusiasm and excitement.  It was wonderful to feel the energy they brought to these tasks, and to see the creativity and color they brought to their finished pieces of art work.

All of this was enhanced by the enthusiasm and eagerness of the Pingree students as they interacted with their teams of young artists.  It was an absolute delight to see many of the high school students working on their own Kumihimo and loom projects as they instructed, modeled, and assisted Tracy students.  Pingree students facilitated learning in a fun and relaxed way with the elementary students.  The whole experience seemed to provide both groups, Pingree and Tracy students, with opportunities to engage socially and creatively.

Working with our hands to create products that are meaningful feels good—no matter what age we are!  I often heard other adults commenting on the peacefulness of the activities, and the “theraputic”, relaxing atmosphere as they passed by our groups.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to share in such an inspiring, relevant, creative endeavor with Tracy-Pingree schools.  Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful partnership, and always remember to be creative in your life every chance you get!  Our creative pursuits add vibrancy to the world we all share!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thank you Lynn Cultural Council! You Make A REAL Difference

 Lynn Cultural Council
Sewing REAL Puppets
The book Where the Wild Things Are is a psychological parable about a child dealing with challenges of being in a world run by adults, learning that his anger can be safely expressed and conquered.  The project Sewing REAL Puppets provided opportunities for participants to process this together through  weekly readings of the book and making puppets. This project benefited the afterschool REAL student participants, parents, and visitors.  

 "This program is supported in part by a grant from the Lynn Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Samuel worked hard to create this fabulous monster puppet for #REAL

Like us on Facebook! We Have a Goal to Obtain 500 LIKES by July 4th!

The mission is to improve literacy. Many people say that is not possible and perhaps we should try for a more tangible mission for The REAL Program. You can help us on our more tangible mission by liking and sharing us on FACEBOOK. Our Facebook address is real_lynn as our first community to improve literacy is based in Lynn, MA where there are nearly 100,000 people and only one public library; no book stores and a majority of the public elementary schools (last count is 22) do not have school libraries as they need the room for classrooms in their elegant but dated buildings. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Transforming the Bullying Cycle through the Arts

BRIO Integrated Theatre Director Sahar Ahmed facilitating a collaborative workshop about anti bullying for children from The REAL Program of Lynn and Old North Church of Marblehead on Saturday, 3/14/2015 at the Lynn Museum. Maryam Mermey, Ph.D. from the Transformative Arts of Maine lead the workshop called Transforming the Bullying Cycle through the Arts

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Harold and the Purple Crayon is this Saturday's theme for Legacy Institute for Early Childhood Educators

Harold and the Purple Crayon Meets STEAM is the theme for this Saturday (3/7) Legacy Institute for Early Childhood Educators at the Riverside School, Danvers. Registration is still open at (Isn't it great to see Harold surrounded by books and green grass and sunshine?)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Little Free Libraries and Books are Beginning to Take Seed Despite Big Snow Banks

Thanks to a dear friend, colleague and educator, VICTORIA HACKETT,  Little Free Libraries has become a passion. The idea of putting a little box of books in front of your house or business with a sign that says "TAKE A BOOK, LEAVE A BOOK" is just too perfect! To all the people in the Boston area who are already committed to their Little Free Libraries and who are known as stewards, please come and meet Todd Bol on Saturday, 3/7 at the Riverside Elementary School in Danvers. Todd is the keynote speaker at this year's Legacy of Teaching Institute for Early Childhood Educators. He is presenting a workshop "building day" too. Information is available at
Little Free Library Movement Founder, Todd Bol and more than one fan of Little Free Libraries

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Story about The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

In 1962 Ezra Jack Keats authored and illustrated the children's book, The Snowy Day. 
It was the time of the civil rights movement in our country. Today New England is braced for another snowy day- an historic blizzard threatens our coast line and up to 30 inches of snow is predicted for our region.  People have been working hard in preparation for the epic event. Mother Nature strikes mighty blows sometimes. Be safe and warm, everyone. Snuggle up and read so we can weather this storm and the other storm we fight against illiteracy in this developed nation. Literacy could be the civil rights movement of our time. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The REAL Program presents The Legacy of Teaching Early Childhood Institute

The Legacy of Teaching Early Childhood Institute, presented by The REAL Program,  is Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Riverside School, Danvers. This year's theme is Harold and the Purple Crayon meets STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Eight workshops are offered with a major focus on STEAM and a little fun with our imaginary leadership of Harold. Harold has been on his journey for 60 years this year and the Legacy celebrates 25 years with keynote speaker Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library Movement. What better way to help early childhood educators enrich the lives of children with literacy and STEAM!

Little Free Library Builder and Founder, Todd Bol.
Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library Movement which he started by building a little tribute to his mother in 2009. With over 20,000 Little Free Libraries around the world, this literacy and community-building phenomenon continues to intrigue people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Little Free Libraries themselves are handcrafted structures that contain constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations. The Libraries are built to withstand weather of all kinds and hold 20-100 books. Some Libraries are located in coffee shops, in or near restaurants and community centers.
Originally designed to look like a one-room school or a “house of books,” the Libraries rapidly took on a wide variety of sizes, shapes, themes and other attributes. There is no standard size and shape. Although many businesses and apartments may have had “take a book, leave a book” shelves for years, the idea of a network of unique structure with stewards, signage and social support started in 2010.

The two people most responsible for Little Free Libraries are Todd Bol and Rick Brooks. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built what would eventually be called the first “Little Free Library” as a memorial tribute to his mother in 2009. Rick Brooks of Madison, Wisconsin and he put together the ideas and strategies that led to other Little Free Libraries being installed in Minneapolis, Madison and other communities. But many of the people most responsible for the success of this movement are the “early adopters” of the idea who purchased Libraries made by Bol and others for their front yards. They became the stewards of the tangible and intangible parts of the Little Free Library mission: to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world. Stewards often build the Libraries that serve their communities. They fill them with books, protect and promote them, and come up with new ways to share the goodwill generated by these neighborhood book exchanges.