SitStayRead Publishes Its Third Early-Reader Book

CHICAGO - For the second year in a row, thanks to the generosity of the Perucca Family Foundation, SitStayRead published an early-reader book, Where Are You, Dozer? This book follows last year’s, Not Today, Aliens! and 2015’s Cozy Fan Tooty, and will be added to SitStayRead’s second grade Tail Blazers curriculum. The book is inspired by a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium in November and was created out of stories students from Funston Elementary wrote during the field trip.

Fall 2018: Fishing for Inspiration at the Shedd Aquarium

“Where is the snake? Did you see the Stingray? Look at all the fish! WOAH!”

Students listen to Mr. Max, the Shedd Aquarium’s Program Leader, for instructions about their activity.

Students listen to Mr. Max, the Shedd Aquarium’s Program Leader, for instructions about their activity.

With iPads in hand and beaming smiles, second-grade students from SitStayRead partner school Funston Elementary paired up to begin their activity at the Shedd Aquarium’s Amazon Rising exhibit. With SitStayRead staff and volunteers (including Certified Reading Assistance Dog Cosi!) the students began collecting data and taking photos of animals in the exhibit, looking at animals’ habitats and environments.

Second grade students from Funston Elementary use iPads to take pictures of animals and go through a guided activity about how animals blend into their environments.

Second grade students from Funston Elementary use iPads to take pictures of animals and go through a guided activity about how animals blend into their environments.

Students learned all about how the many animals in the exhibit blend into their environments. Some notable favorites were the green anaconda snake, dotted stingrays, poisonous dart frogs, and the electric eels.

After the data collecting was completed, students went back to Shedd classrooms where SitStayRead Program Leaders led students in a brainstorming activity to help them come up with ideas for their own stories. After some quick idea gathering, they wrote aquarium-themed stories inspired by their experience!

Winter 2019: Written for Students, by Students

Students writing their creative stories at the Shedd Aquarium. These stories inspired the story for Where Are You, Dozer?

Students writing their creative stories at the Shedd Aquarium. These stories inspired the story for Where Are You, Dozer?

With two classrooms’ creative stories as inspiration, SitStayRead board member and children’s author J.B. Blankenship began writing SitStayRead’s third early-reader book, Where Are You, Dozer? After months of research, revisions, writing, and design, Where Are You, Dozer? came to life. Cassandre Bolan, who also illustrated Not Today Aliens!, joined in to add the beautiful illustrations for the book, and together with SitStayRead, the book was completed in early May.

Fun Fact: Dozer is named after SitStayRead Program Manager Sarah’s dog, Dozer, and has a fun callout in the book!

The book is set in the aquarium and centers around Dozer, a friendly dog who is challenged by friends to a game of hide and seek. As he tries to find places to hide, he quickly learns how hard it is for a dog to blend into aquatic environments.

Spring 2019: “Time for the book signing!”

Author J.B. Blankenship reads Where Are You, Dozer? out loud to the authors at Funston Elementary for the first time.

Author J.B. Blankenship reads Where Are You, Dozer? out loud to the authors at Funston Elementary for the first time.

“Oh my gosh! We were there! We’re authors!”

Second grader Andrea signing the book she, and other students, helped create.

Second grader Andrea signing the book she, and other students, helped create.

After the book was published, SitStayRead hosted a fun hour-long celebration for the young authors at Funston Elementary to unveil the book, have the new authors receive a copy, and sign several others.

One of the authors reading their book for the first time.

One of the authors reading their book for the first time.

Author J.B. Blankenship, with his Certified Reading Assistance Dog Cosi by his side, introduced Where Are You, Dozer? to the students for the very first time and lead a read-aloud of the book. After the inaugural reading was completed, students went back to seats to begin a brainstorming activity and write more stories. While students were writing, students signed copies of the book - as all published authors do!   

With the school year ending, Where Are You, Dozer? will be given to over 2,000 SitStayRead students as part of the six brand-new books they will receive at their school’s Keep Reading Celebration - a book written for students, by students!


This year-long project was made possible by the generosity of the Perucca Family Foundation. Their support of this project made the field trip and book publishing possible. Thank you!