An interview with Eric Litwin about his upcoming keynote at the Young Years Conference. He’ll be talking about Early Literacy Optimization. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

An interview with Eric Litwin about his upcoming keynote at the Young Years Conference. He’ll be talking about Early Literacy Optimization. Interview conducted by Dr. Sam Bommarito

I interviewed Eric Litwin about his upcoming appearance at the Conference on the Young Years (CYY), held on March 9 – 11, 2023, at the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center in Osage Beach, Missouri. This year the conference is celebrating its 50th year!   Osage beach Missouri is centrally located and easy to get to. Eric is scheduled to be the Keynote Speaker on March 10th.

This interview was an amazing experience for me. That is because I first met Eric at an all-day workshop he did at the Tan-Tar-A Conference Center several years back. So, meeting him again at Tan-Tar-A brings things to a full circle. In the years since we first met, we have become good friends. It is amazing to share ideas about literacy, especially early literacy, with a world-renowned figure like Eric. His songs have brought joy to tens of thousands of children, and his materials have been a source of good teaching for many teachers- myself included. In this interview, Eric talked about what he will say during his keynote. It is all about optimizing early literacy instruction. His work to do that centers around the acronym HELPFUL. Here is a chart from his conference handout that helps to explain that acronym:

Eric believes literacy instruction can be optimized by immersing children in all the elements of HELPFUL. This is done throughout the entire school day. During the interview, he gives many examples of what that looks like in practice. He even shows how a couple of his most popular songs can be used to optimize instruction. Besides children’s books, Eric has also authored a professional development book. The book is entitled The Power of Joyful Reading. It is a book for both teachers and parents. In the book, he and his co-author, Dr. Gina Pepin, make a compelling, research-based case for parents and teachers to encourage students to want to read. He talks about how we can use immersion and play throughout the day to help children raise their test scores and become lifelong readers.

These are highlights from the interview. In case you want to jump to a particular topic, the highlights are time-stamped.


Here are links to some of Eric’s Books.

The Power of Joyful Reading: LINK 

The Poop Song: LINK  

You’ll also want to visit Eric’s website. There are free downloads, links to videos of him singing some of his favorite songs, or links to buy one of his many books.

Link to the CYY conference. (Registration closes February 22nd, so don’t delay!)


Here is a complete list of the speakers at the conference:

Keynotes: Josh Varner, Ron Shuali, Dr. Adolph Brown, Eric Litwin and Jim Gill.

Featured: Jill Molli, Sharron Krull, Dr. Sam Bommarito, Vladimir Sainte and Ernesto Rodriguez.


I’ll be talking to Jordan Page, founder of Page-by-Page Literacy. Jordan has extensive teaching experience and is currently an adjunct at the University of South Carolina. She supervises early childhood teachers as they take their practicum. In the interview, she gives a lot of nuts-and-bolts advice on how to include play in your teaching routines while providing direct instruction to early childhood students. Jordan makes a compelling case for play. She gives advice on how to sell the idea of play to administrators and supervisors. She also makes a couple of recommendations about good professional development books for preservice teachers. All in all, her interview provides the perfect segway into topics covered at the Young Years conference. As I mentioned last week, Eric Litwin will be the keynote for that conference. I’ll be presenting two sessions there as well. Registration is closed for this year’s conference, but be sure to put it on your radar for future years.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the guy in the middle taking flak from all sides)

Copyright 2023 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

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