“I just read the book, great story line. The thing that hits home is how true it is. Having hope and staying positive is what got me through and keeps me going now.”
The “Neon Tiki Tribe” book series has hit another one out of the ball park with Home Run Pride: Reading with the Tribe. This new book builds an audience of readers and baseball fans, as the pages led the readers on a journey of the dangers of not being able to read and the benefits of understanding the written word. With Manny the Manatee mascot cheering, “If you can read, you can lead,” children glean the message that reading is important!
The “Neon Tiki Tribe” book series has all the ingredients to make reading fun. Colorful characters, action packed pages, time-treasured messages and the Dyslexie font, combine to make this series a hit with children and parents alike. The books are available in paper and online, making them conveniently within reach for an active family to read and enjoy.
Susan Thomas, Executive Director
Rolling Readers Space Coast, Inc.
The Neon Tiki Tribe, Digging Up Adventure, had our office talking – and that says something since we see more than 300 titles a month. The book is so inviting – the bright colors, expert illustrated art and excellent story line.
What caught our attention was the second page: you provided us with interesting information regarding the book. You gave us reasons to purchase this book and the series of books, i.e., the main theme, description of a TIKI, note describing why the book is important and information on the Dyslexie font.
You have a TIKI fan club at Thomson-Shore waiting for your series of books.
Independent Publisher Sales Manager 734.426.1722
I am writing to recommend the Neon Tiki Tribe.
In their award-winning books, the Neon Tiki Tribe have developed a powerful series, which will appeal to all children and that also implements a specialized but subtle font for students with dyslexia. I’ve found that the books in the Neon Tiki Tribe series provide an appealing, action-oriented storyline that applies critical life-skills.
An exciting edition in the Neon Tiki Tribe series is a new Family Literacy book, created in collaboration with our organization and through the leadership of Greg Devlin and Dave Thompson. This book will address the needs of 45,000 illiterate adults in Brevard County, Florida. Greg Devlin of the Neon Tiki Tribe, approached Literacy for Adults in Brevard to get books into the hands of children who struggle with dyslexia and those children who need reading motivation and support. This ingenuity and unconventional teaming provided a solution to transform our County and to eradicate illiteracy.
The Neon Tiki Tribe’s Family Literacy book is a locally-based, high-action book, which addresses the issue of family members, who might be non-readers. This book will engage students at local Title One schools, will engage students and parents online, and will be made available in English and Spanish.
With this visionary approach to partner and to use a child’s book for Family Literacy, the Neon Tiki Tribe will address the needs of a challenging demographic, illiterate adults. Their book and progressive teaming with Literacy for Adults in Brevard provide a template and scalable model for our Nation.
Also, with 93 million non-reading adults, impactful family literacy programs are needed in Brevard county Florida and throughout our Country. The Neon Tiki Tribe’s innovative Family Literacy book answers the call and is positioned to make a difference in Brevard County and beyond.
The purpose of this letter is to highly recommend the Neon Tiki Tribe book series. As I have read about the mission of your award, the Tiki’s are an exemplary candidate. The Tiki’s bring vision, ingenuity, transformation, achievement, and leadership to the reading table of elementary school aged children. With the support of your foundation, the Tiki’s can produce more books in the series and reach out to children all over the country and world with their message of being thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and inspirational.
The creator of the Neon Tiki Tribe, Greg Devlin, has himself faced adversity in the face of a dangerous position and mission with the United States Air Force. After his harrowing experience, he brought the Tiki tribe to life as a way to educate and talk with children about how a positive attitude, hard work, and kindness are critical when navigating any difficult situation, whether a child is sick in the hospital, bullied, or is struggling to learn to read.
Greg and his partner, Dave Thompson, with their team of writers, editors, and artists have now created and published over fourteen books with two more underway that deal with educational and social justice topics. They have most recently partnered with LAB or the Literacy for Adults in Brevard County to jointly publish a book that helps bring families together to read. They have recently partnered with Riley Hospital for Children and will soon publish a book titled Always Hope about children working to live with and beat cancer.
If funded, they want to partner with even more agencies on bringing books about topics such as autism, poverty, and different families to the forefront. Their characters, colorful Tiki’s, in each story, engage children in an adventure where wrongs are conquered and together, the Tikis and the children, negotiate to find a peaceful resolve for everyone in the story, even the Evil Ku Tiki Tribe. Characters face everything from Internet danger, bullies, being laughed at for having dwarfism, cheating, and bad sportsmanship.
I have been using children’s picture books in my own teaching for 24 years, teaching a course in children’s literature at the university level for eight years, and now edit a literary magazine titled Rethinking Children’s Literature. My magazine’s mission is to ask the gatekeepers—publishers, librarians, teachers—to rethink the books we write, we shelve, and that we read.
I wrote the following for a book chapter that will be published this fall in a university ebook publication about diversity and this excerpt fits well in this space of this letter to express why we need more books like The Neon Tiki Tribe:
We are wired, some might even argue, hard wired by the stories we are told and that we read. The messages in children’s picture books are delivered simply and illustrated beautifully. Those early stories shape us and become our maxims in life.
Caterpillars become beautiful butterflies; It’s good to rebel and have “fun that is funny” and to try something different like green eggs and ham; to say goodnight to the moon and everything else in your room before you go to sleep; to go outside and play on a snowy day; to know that your mother loves you more than you will ever know; that being sent to your room isn’t the worse thing because imagined wild things come to life beyond your bedroom door; that your beloved teddy bear lives a secret life when you sleep; that your teacher is always right; and that if you have a terrible, horrible no good day that you can always try again tomorrow to make it better.
Why are these classic stories treasured? Are they really timeless? Or, are they considered timeless because they are the children’s books that are accepted by editors at publishing houses, and then purchased and shelved by bookstores and libraries, and finally read to us by librarians, parents, and teachers? Do these stories speak to all students? Can every student identify with a character or an event in these classic tales? Are the cultural messages we are delivering positive, or do they reinforce the hegemony of the white, middle class?
The answer is simple: Diversity in children’s literature is critical in constructing culture and community identity.
The Tiki’s want to represent and include all children: their stories and their voices. They want children to see and read about themselves in a book. They want children to learn about each other, about what it’s like, for example, to have cancer, have autism, or be bullied. They want teachers and librarians to have new books to shelve that tackle contemporary social and educational issues.
Each of the Tiki books brings experience, research, and more importantly, not just an interest, but a passion for teaching about topics that are so relevant in creating educational and social justice.
I was introduced to the Tiki’s because of my work with my magazine. My students at the university loved the books, as did I. We know our young male readers sometimes struggle with picture books because the characters are more often female and boys want to read more nonfiction and action. And while fiction, the Tikis tackle a nonfiction or real life topic, which makes the books appealing to both our female and male readers. And, research clearly supports that children love series books. When they love a book, they don’t want it to end. With the Tiki’s, it doesn’t have to. The number of topics and story lines that can be created are endless. The Tiki’s can grow with their audience. And finally, comic books and graphic books are growing in popularity and the Tiki illustrator creates comic book style art for many scenes in the books.
Dr. Darolyn “Lyn” Jones
Assistant Professor, English Education Advisor, and Editor of Rethinking Children’s Literature, Department of English, Ball State University
Education Outreach Director of the Memoir Project and Editor for INwords Publications, The Indiana Writers Center, Indianapolis, Indiana
Robert Bell, #297, Ball State University Muncie, Indiana 47306