March 12, 2014 – New Orleans - Guinness World Records today notified the Turn the Page Literacy Campaign that it achieved the “Largest Reading Lesson” when 451 children took part in a launch event on Jan. 22, 2014 at the New Orleans Public Library to kick off a major multi-parish wide effort. That event, hosted by Grammy winning trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and co-chair Wendell Pierce, combined the best of New Orleans music and story-telling and easily broke the previous Guinness record.

 “Turn the Page” is a collaborative effort led by the New Orleans Public Library Foundation with a bold goal—to make New Orleans the most literate city in America by its 300th birthday in 2018. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Louisiana State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton, area University presidents, chancellors, campaign co-chairs actor Wendell Pierce, Vice Chairman of the New Orleans Public Library Board Christine Guillory, Executive Director of the New Orleans Public Library Charles Brown and Interim President and Executive Director of Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Miranda Restovic all attended the dynamic kickoff event.

Instrumental in the creation of the campaign is renowned trumpeter Irvin Mayfield who gathered a number of musicians to provide a musical accompaniment to the reading by Wendell Pierce. Noted New Orleans musicians included Ellis Marsalis, Glen David Andrews, Shannon Powell, Don Vappie and Peter Harris.  Mayfield was recently named Chairman Emeritus of the New Orleans Public Library as a recognition of several years of completed volunteer service on the board.    

“Our goal is to work together to make New Orleans the most literate city in America by our 300th anniversary in 2018, so this record helps bring recognition to such a vital issue for our region,” said Co-Chair Guillory. “We are experiencing a lot of momentum with all our efforts but we have just begun and need everyone to continue to contribute so we can reach our goal and make sure every child becomes literate and learns to read.”

New Orleans is currently ranked as the 19th most literate city among 75 US cities with 250,000 or more in population, according to a 2014 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University.  Coming off the heels of our campaign launch, this is a rise from being ranked 25th in the 2013 study. The kickoff event garnered major media attention in an effort to increase awareness about literacy and the “Turn the Page” campaign. Several local elementary schools, including Mahalia Jackson Elementary, Ben Franklin Elementary, Edgar P. Harney Elementary and James Singleton Elementary arranged field trips for their first and second graders to attend the record attempt and enjoy a dynamic reading lesson based on “The Bourbon Street Band is Back,” written by Ed Shankman and illustrated by David O’Neill. 

“Turn the Page” is an effective way that local businesses, non-profit organizations, community associations and media outlets can display their commitment to one of the most serious issues facing New Orleans – Literacy.


About Turn the Page

Turn the Page is a collaborative effort by the New Orleans Public Library, the New Orleans Public Library Foundation, Friends of the New Orleans Public Libraries, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and library systems from the southeast Louisiana region. More information is available at letsturnthepage.com.


This campaign is not affiliated with the program “Turning the Page,” an advocacy training program developed by the Public Library Association.





 "My Grandma Lives in Florida" by Ed Shankman and Dave O'Neill

 "My Grandma Lives in Florida" by Ed Shankman and Dave O'Neill

New Shankman & O’Neill Book, “My Grandma Lives in Florida,” pays homage to the unique relationship between child and grandmother

 Carlisle, MA – “My grandma lives in Florida/And that is where we go/When daddy says he cannot stand/Another inch of snow.”  So begins My Grandma Lives in Florida, the latest children’s book by Shankman & O’Neill (author Ed Shankman and illustrator Dave O’Neill).  According to publisher Phil Zuckerman, the book is an homage to the unique relationship between a boy and his grandmother and it is intended for children ages two to seven.  

“Children, parents, educators and reviewers have loved all the Shankman and O’Neill books,” Zuckerman said. “And this one is sure to bring a smile to grandmothers and grandchildren everywhere.”

In My Grandma Lives in Florida, young readers join a child on his visit to his grandmother’s house in the Sunshine State.  The book uses Seussian rhymes and rhythms, affectionate humor, and dazzling illustrations to present a child’s-eye view of the grandmother/grandson relationship. “When we go inside, grandma gives me a kiss/In fact, there’s no place on my face she will miss/I may wriggle and giggle and grumble and hiss/But only a grandma can kiss you like this.”

The book is also permeated by Florida’s sunny disposition. “That sun warms each beach it can reach/And rest assured, it reaches each/It shines on every manatee/From Tampa Bay to Longboat Key.”

The author and illustrator believe this fable will capture the hearts of children and grandmother’s everywhere. And Shankman says this story has special meaning for him.

“Both of my grandmothers, Mal and Sarah, were central figures in my life and had a major influence on me,” he said. They were two very different women but the single overriding factor in both relationships was that they loved me and I loved them.”

O’Neill added, “There’s a special bond between kids and their grandparents. It’s the warm hugs and the tiny little moments. It’s that secret little extra piece of candy, and knowing where they hide the treats. Your grandparents are basically your first best friends. It’s friendship and it’s unconditional love and homemade apple pie.”

Available online to grandmothers everywhere, and at bookstores and gift shops across Florida, the 32-page book retails for $14.95

Other works by Shankman and O’Neill include The Boston Balloonies, The Cods of Cape Cod, Champ and Me by the Maple Tree, The Bourbon Street Band is Back, and the duo’s most popular book, I Met a Moose in Maine One Day. All Shankman and O’Neill books have been published by Commonwealth Editions, an imprint of Applewood Books. Commonwealth Editions was named 2006 New England Publisher of the Year by the New England Booksellers Association.

If past reaction to Shankman and O’Neill’s work is a guide, Grandma should be a big hit. Here are just a few testimonials from reviewers:

“Shankman and O’Neill are in a league of their own.” —GoGrahamGo.com. 

 “All of Shankman and O’Neill’s books are amazing.”  —5minutesformom.com.

“An irresistible read for children 3-7 and for the people who love them.” —


“The rhythmic writings of Ed Shankman and the cuddly illustrations from Dave O’Neill have come to feel like old friends here at our house.”  —myfourmonkeys.com.

At one point in the book, the young protagonist ponders the unique quality of his grandmother’s love and attention.

“And that makes her laugh, which I find quite confusing/I can’t always tell why she thinks I’m amusing/But this is the thing that makes grandmothers grand/They love you for reasons you can’t understand.” 

“Anyone whose ever had a grandmother, or been one, will recognize the feelings in this book,” Zuckerman said. “It honors the special role that grandmothers play in our lives.”