Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: The Alphabet Kids

1)      Where did the concept of The Alphabet Kids originate?

Allegra Joyce Kassin, our Chief Executive Officer, created the Alphabet Kids concept. She is a devoted mother of five and grandmother of seven, who was in search of literature that highlighted children from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures. It was her original idea.

After being introduced to Emmy-winner and humanitarian Patrice Samara by a business colleague, they teamed up to fully develop the concept and the brand... and the rest is history! 

Mrs. Kassin and Ms. Samara believe that Alphabet Kids filled a void. “Our goal is to help our youngest learners everywhere to love themselves, embrace diversity and understand that friendships can be created despite cultural or physical differences.”

2)      Tell us about the characters and the cultures they represent.

Our characters are Allegra (Italian-American), Elena (Hispanic-American), Isaac (Jewish-American), Oni (African-American), Umar (Arab-American), and Yang (Chinese-American).  We also embrace many other cultures from around the world and physical types through our website, community-based activities, and features in the Alphabet Kids Magazine.

Our timeless stories follow the Kids fun adventures as they learn to embrace their cultural heritage and other life lessons. With the population of the United States becoming more diverse each day, it is important that everyone - especially children - understand how to co-exist with others who may be different.

3)      What is the mission of The Alphabet Kids?

The Alphabet Kids have a mission to spread multicultural understanding from the start and help children love who they are and realize that people who are different can be very good friends! 

4)      Tell us about the team of experts who contribute to this series.

  • Patrice Samara is the co-author of all the Alphabet Kids books.
  • Neme Alperstein, author of Isaac’s Zoo; Subject matter expert; Educational Advisory Committee
  • Abed Awad, Esq, co-author of Umar’s Magic Oven; Middle Eastern subject expert          
  • Michelle Bodden, co-author of Oni’s Good Hair Day; African-American expert; Educational Advisory Committee         
  • Dr. Jingyi Hong, Co-author of Yang’s New Dance, Chinese subject expert and cross-cultural communications expert; Educational Advisory Committee          
  • Liana Pérez, Co-author of Elena’s Birthday Surprise; Hispanic subject matter expert; Educational Advisory Committee
  • Vivian Treves, Co-author of Allegra’s Apple Tree; Italian subject matter expert; Educational Advisory Committee
  • Isaac J. Kassin, Co-author with Patrice Samara of Alphabet Kids Go to the Planetarium  (2012)
 To read all of the experts' bios, follow this link: 

5)      What kinds of activities and resources does The Alphabet Kids website offer?

In addition to giving updates on all of our activities, around the country, we have reviews of movies suitable for families and children, and offer free, downloadable activities for children, and educational tips for parents and educators.

6)      What is the “You Buy One, We Give One” program?

Committed to social responsibility, we instituted the Alphabet Kids Buy One-Give One Literacy Program, donating books to children in need through myriad literacy programs nationwide. For each book, sold we donate one book to a child in need. Each member of the Alphabet Kids team is deeply committed to supporting our charitable activities by visiting schools, community and faith-based organizations, schools & hospitals across the United States and around the world. We distribute books through established charities we support such as the Melvin Van Peebles Foundation and The Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida's Fatherhood Reading Squad.

7)      Tell us about your current projects and what is next in the series.

In 2012, we will be launching the Alphabet Kids Science & Technology Series. Our premier book in that series is "The Alphabet Kids Go to the Planetarium". (See answer to question 10 below) We have been working closely with the Melvin Van Peebles Foundation with a mission to encourage literacy and careers in science.  Alphabet Kids will also be working with the Black Spectrum Theater in New York City to produce plays based on the Alphabet Kids stories. Their Executive Director, Carl Clay is a visionary when it comes to bringing theatrical productions to schools and encouraging the community to attend theater performances.

8)      How do you promote The Alphabet Kids? What strategies have been the most successful?

Alphabet Kids utilizes various methods to get the word out about our books, curriculum, teacher training, music and other products.

We have an extensive PR program, utilize social media, and tour around the country.

We have done a licensing deal with Select Italy, a tour company and created "Amazing Family Tours" focusing on family travel and utilizing our book content as an educational spring board.

We have also done co-promotions with wonderful, innovative  organizations such as BurdaStyle and Footzy Rolls.

We meet with school superintendent, teachers, homeschoolers,, parents and the media to discuss related topics. We visit schools,  hospitals, community centers, faith-based organizations and also attend as many educational and trade shows as possible.

2011 was an important year for the Alphabet Kids Series, culminating with an appearance on NBC's Today Show in an interview by Jenna Bush Hager, Education Correspondent on December 24!

9)      Tell us about your music CD, “Music for the World”.

The CD is available on our website ( By way of background, The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus welcomes immigrant children from around the globe, remarkably helping to rescue young lives blown apart by the horrific conditions from which many of them have fled. War-torn villages, bloodshed, refugee camps, famine, and political turmoil were devastating realities for so many of these young singers before being embraced by the warmth, companionship and harmony of a loving musical environment.

For these children, the power of survival eases – but never erases – the memory of unthinkable atrocities, physical danger and personal tragedy. Filmed in Portland, Maine, an ever-expanding international resettlement community, there was fertile ground to bring together young survivors from diverse backgrounds, helping them to adapt to a new home and connect them with local children in a healing, musical setting.

Con Fullam, an award-winning producer, musician, and songwriter, combined his passion for music with a deep concern for the effect of world issues on children by creating the Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus. When he was five, his father died and music became his salvation. Fullam’s dream was to help others in need through music and he began The Chorus with the help and encouragement of countless citizens and supporters.

The American Indian word Pihcintu means, “When she sings, her voice carries far,” a sentiment that truly embodies the spirit of the CD and a new documentary film. Emmy-award winning Patrice Samara, Producer/Director, shot the documentary over numerous months capturing multiple rehearsals and  she produced the CD.  Music for the World follows the singers as they prepare for their recording session and concert, highlighting the stories of these unique young singers who range in age from 9 to 20. With families originally from Cambodia, China, Congo, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Viet Nam, West Indies, and Zambia plus other countries, the girls bond with children whose families have lived in the United States and Canada for generations. The Chorus has touched the hearts people of all ages everywhere and being in their presence is a life-enhancing experience. The children, their stories and their music are transformative for the singers and their audiences alike. Through the healing power of music, these vulnerable, yet brave, young women have learned to trust, hope…and laugh again.

10)   What can young readers expect from The Alphabet Kids in 2012?

We will be releasing a special addition book called " The Alphabet Kids Go to the Planetarium". The book is co-written by Isaac J Kassin, a sixteen-year-old honor's student and Emmy-winner Patrice Samara. We wanted to encourage our reader's to learn more about science and encourage careers in the field of technology.

In 2012, we will also be working with the Black Spectrum Theater in New York City to produce plays based on the Alphabet Kids stories.

Our goal for 2012 is to mount a bus tour called "Alphabet Kids Many Face-Many Places Tour". On our first part of the tour schedule, we are planning to go to Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, CA. We plan to go to schools, hospitals and community centers such as the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs to meet our fans. We will be visiting Mayors, community leaders and PTAs in as many communities across the country as possible to connect with our readers in person! We have a mission and we take that mission very seriously. WE want the world to be a much more understanding and tolerant place for everyone...especially the children.

Connect with The Alphabet Kids:

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