Mary Shea Rys, Reading Specialist, Liverpool Elementary

Mark proved to be an excellent choice for our yearly author visit. His stories were fresh, original, amusing and, at times, heartwarming.

With our older students, he focused on stories from his newest collection, Stories for Peace, and these were a big crowd-pleasure. Our student council has focused their efforts for the past two years on anti-bullying programs, and Mark’s signature story, “The Bully and the Shrimp,” has become a school-wide favorite. The fact that both the bully and the bullied in that story end up reaching out to each other in friendship truly brought home the message we’ve been trying to articulate to our students. Mark’s storytelling and writing made the concepts come alive for everyone.

Mark’s performances for our younger children were equally terrific. Mark told several tales that involved the students in the word play. Some students were given repetitive refrains that included them in the telling, while others heard a scary but funny “story within a story” that many were heard retelling the following day!

Mark’s ability to adjust his repertoire to the ages and needs of the students was outstanding. His version of Jack and the Beanstalk was hysterical, and his “mash-up” of Goldilocks and the Three Pigs was even more so.

Every student expressed their enjoyment and excitement regarding his visit, and the copies of Mark’s books that were purchased for classrooms and our school library are now rarely on the shelf. We would like to thank Mark Binder most sincerely for sharing his exceptional storytelling, acting and writing with our school. His was a visit that was inspiring and validating, and will not be forgotten.

—Mary Shea Rys, Reading Specialist, Liverpool Elementary