Debbie Glade, Children's Book Author

Literacy, Education and Parenting

Check out Debbie's award-winning book: Travel on a literary and musical journey to the fertile rainforests of Costa Rica with a friendly family of millipedes. "The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly: Costa Rica" is a children’s book with accompanying audio CD. Go the the Book's website to find out more.

Being an author and teaching artist has in turn taught me so much. Most enlightening has been learning about the many outstanding grant-based and donor-funded programs available to South Florida parents and their children. Because of these programs, many parents have affordable and often free before and after care options, so they can work to support their families financially. And there’s so much more to these wonderful programs, including dedicated staff members.

Kids in Distress was created to for “the prevention of child abuse, preservation of the family, and the treatment of abused and neglected children.” Since 1979, the Broward chapter has been educating children through their preschools, aftercare program and day camps. They support families with numerous programs such as adoption, foster care, recovery services, and health and counseling services. The Children’s Services Council of Broward is at the forefront of this agency’s funding.

I was thrilled to be invited to present my literacy program to 75 students who participate in the MOST Aftercare Program, under the direction of Kevin Bochenek. These kids were curious, eager to learn and asked me more questions than I’ve ever been asked before. By the end of the author visit, they had a new appreciation for the biodiversity of the rainforest and seemed excited about reading more about it on their own.

DSC_0015Learning about the many animals species of the rain forest is so exciting!

DSC_0008We learned about the importance of geography literacy and reading maps.


One five-year-old boy knew how birds are responsible for planting so many trees (Yes, they poop out the seeds!)

DSC_0023Any and every child who has the privilege of learning with MOST Director Kevin Bochenek is lucky indeed. Kevin has been a dedicated child advocate for more than 25 years, and he’s so kind and caring with the children.

DSC_0002I love seeing art projects made by the children, and this beautiful facility has them decorating their bright walls.

DSC_0004The charming children’s library offers kids a wide variety or reading and learning options.

I want to thank Kevin from Kids in Distress for inviting me to present Lilly Badilly and all the children for making my day so bright. Keep reading and learning!

Readers, to contact Kids in Distress, click here. For more information about foster parenting, volunteering or mentoring, click here.

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I was invited to bring Lilly Badilly to Lake Stevens Elementary School in Miami Gardens as part of the school’s Literacy Week. What better way to talk about reading than in the school’s lovely Media Center?

The children were fascinated by how the physical book is illustrated, printed and bound and how a CD is recorded. They learned about the biodiversity of the rain forest and how imperative it is that we each do our part to preserve our planet. We talked about life as an author, the many ways reading opens doors to life’s opportunities and how much more interesting a person can be when he or she is an avid reader.

The children demonstrated absolutely perfect behavior and had so many clever questions, making this was one of the best author visits I’ve ever had. One of the second grade boys asked me, “Is it true that mosquitoes make chocolate?” I was unable to answer that question. But following the visit I did a little bit of research, only to discover that mosquitoes are one of several insects that do in fact pollinate the cocoa tree. Who knew?  I love learning from the kids I meet.

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I wish to thank Principal Daniels for inviting me to Lake Stevens Elementary and Reading Coach, Mrs. Dinah Gay-Dorvil for coordinating the event and for welcoming me and hosting this memorable visit. I’ve never felt more welcomed at a school than I did here!


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I had the pleasure of visiting American Heritage Summer Camp in Delray Beach yesterday, where I was welcomed by many friendly staff members and hundreds of campers. The library there, which was built two years ago is the most beautiful library I’ve ever seen in any school, with it’s towering resin trees and skylights that change colors. There’s even a choral reef story time room! Who wouldn’t want to read in here?!?!?!?!





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Thank you  Sally Schleifer and Ally Stein for inviting me and making me feel very welcome at your wonderful school. And an additional thank you to the extra friendly Mr. Jim from the library for helping me carry my props out to the car.


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I was invited to share The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly with visitors at the wonderful Miami Children’s Museum on Saturday May 9 in celebration of Children’s Book Week.


Miami Children’s Museum is located on Watson Island along  the MacArthur Causeway, overlooking the port and downtown Miami. It’s one of the country’s largest children’s museums and includes 14 galleries, a wide variety of impressive educational outreach programs, an auditorium, a pre-school and a charter school. You can even have an awesome birthday party here. The building is so uniquely beautiful; check it out . . .




Parents and their kids stopped by to see what Lilly Badilly was all about.  We had a great time dancing and learning about the animals of the rain forest. Children are never too young to love maps! Each child at the presentation received a free copy of the book, courtesy of the museum. Everyone is so nice and accommodating here, and I’d love to come back for another visit.




I want to thank Ashley Harrison, Public Programs Manager for inviting me to Miami Children’s Museu and Laura for helping me bring in all my props, setting up and taking photos.

If you’re in Miami and have children, you’ve got to visit Miami Children’s Museum:

980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami, FL 33132

305 -373 -5437


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Last week I visited two after school programs in North Broward County run by the Soref JCC After Care Programs. I was overwhelmed by how welcomed I felt, by the dedication of the staff and the behavior of the students. Good leadership = good students! These were large crowds – about 80 students in each presentation, yet you could hear a pin drop in those cafeterias where I presented my program.

In addition to the attentiveness, I was treated to some of the best questions I’ve been asked. “Where did you get the information to write your book?” “How did you sew your costume?” “How can I learn to draw with watercolor pencils?”


Dancing to “Granny Wears a Wig.”

Big group photo!

A surprising number of students knew that it’s the wings of the hummingbird that make that buzzing sound.

The biggest ooos and ahhhs come when I show the children my watercolor pencils.

And then I show them how water magically turns these pencils into paints.

A Big crowd!

Some new Lilly Badilly fans!

I’d like to thank Sharon Schwartz from Soref JCC for inviting me to present and to the friendly, caring Site Directors, Ms. Angel, Ms. Nancy and all the assistants who help me carry books, maps and other stuff! Thank you also to the wonderful, curious students who made this such a special day! Remember to KEEP READING and WRITING! I hope to see you all again some time.

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Today I conducted a simple writing workshop at Fairway Park in Miramar, FL. This was my fifth visit to the park’s after care program as a teaching artist. With the first group of 30 kids, ages 5-8, the children wrote 1-3 sentence stories entitled, “My Best Day Ever” and drew pictures to go along with their stories. Then they read them out loud to their peers. There were lots of spelling questions, and one impressive six-year-old boy seemed to know how to spell just about every word. Stories included themes about Disney trips, Christmas day presents, birthdays, family outings and getting good grades at school.

Kindergarten through second graders

This adorable five-year-old’s handwriting was perfect, as was his grammar and spelling for his birthday party Best Day Ever story.

 Sharing his artwork of a bus with superpowers with the group

Time to show off their hard work!

With the older group of 35 children, ages 9-13, the assignment was to write a letter to someone they know who has had a positive influence on them. First I read to the group a personal letter of thanks I wrote to my late grandfather as an example and so they were not the only ones pouring their hearts out.

I am happy to report that overwhelmingly the children wrote thank you letters to their parents and a few to teachers,- a few with impressive detail. Some were so incredibly thoughtful, I’m sure it will bring tears to the recipients’ eyes. It takes courage to stand up and read a personal letter to a large group of peers – especially at this age – and I’m proud of all who did!


Some lucky people will be receiving this kind, thoughtful letters!

A letter from a nine-year-old boy to his dad

What I learned today is that children want to be good writers. Some decided not to read their work out loud, and some others wanted me to read for them. All the children listened to the stories being read by their peers with respect. What surprised me most is that the children were excited to write by hand, although all printed and none used cursive.

The message I left with the children is, “Reading is the number one factor in determining your financial success in the future. The only way to become a good writer is to read a lot and practice writing a lot. Any worthwhile writing requires numerous revisions. No matter what career you choose down the road you’ll be a lot more successful if you are a good writer. Read what others have written and decide what you like – or don’t like – about it Then get inspired to write something amazing yourself.”

What a rewarding and fun day we all had. A big thank to Site Supervisor Randy Kaiser for inviting me back to visit today and to the dedicated teachers there who keep the children focused and learning. I look forward to another visit with Fairway kids!

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I’m excited to start a new year of school author visits, returning to some I’ve visited before and many new schools and aftercare programs. In anticipation of this season, I’ve spent a great deal of time updating my author visit materials and presentation. I’ve got a pile of new posters I’ve hand-painted too. Check them out!

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Cannot be copied or used without permission

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I was invited to visit three separate After School Programs this week for United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida. This generous organization serves over 1,800 children and adults in South Florida with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, autism, spina bifida, prematurity, hearing, intellectual disabilities and speech delays with a variety of programs such as occupational, speech and music therapy, skills courses, respite care, counseling, after care and much more.

I discovered that most authors decline invitations to visit organizations that serve those with special needs. I suppose it is because they feel their books are not geared toward that type of audience. I was happy to visit these children knowing  they would simply enjoy listening to my cartoon voices, looking at the colorful pictures and dancing to the music. Some may not understand the story I am telling, but that’s not what enrichment is all about.

All the participants enjoy my world map and were proud to use the pointer to show others where their favorite places are in the world.

We learn about the animals of the Costa Rican rainforest.

The kids cheer when I tell them the book is recorded on CD with music and sound effects, and of course they want to know all about the story.

What I realized this week while spending time with the program participants is that they teach us how to live in the moment and be truly happy from the inside out. Dancing is the best!!!

And they sure like to give great hugs!

Teacher, Mr. Albert wanted to get in on the hug action too! LOL!

Ah, learning about the magic of watercolor pencils!

The teachers and assistants who work in the UCP After School Programs are equally as inspiring as the children. Their energy, dedication and love for what they do are truly remarkable. I wish to thank Allyson Nanny for inviting me and Site Directors Pat McGee and Lakeya Hariott as well as all the other wonderful staff members.

For more information about UCP programs, be sure to visit the United Cerebral Palsy of South Florida website.

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Celebrating a Milestone

This weekend I’m celebrating a milestone. Two years ago I began running on the steps in front of my local courthouse. In these two years I’ve run up and down about 2,000,000 steps – between 3,400 and 5,600 steps per day, depending on how I feel and what the weather is like. On my 53rd birthday in October I challenged myself to run 10,000 steps. I did it in one hour and 38 minutes!


Why I Love Running Steps

Running steps more than anything is meditative.  I walk about a half mile from my house to the courthouse, through my alley and down a semi-busy street. I watch the sun rise every morning, listen to the birds chirping, often flying overhead. I pass by morning glories opening and alley cats that scamper as I approach. I arrive at the courthouse while no one else is there, except for the security guards. I count the number of laps I do up and down, which I like to call “innings.” I don’t really focus on counting, it just happens naturally and keeps my mind light and free.

I live in Miami, so it’s hot here – really, really hot and humid. That adds to the challenge of keeping up my energy. But it also allows for a really good sweat, providing that feeling that I’ve sweat out the toxins and have accomplished something worthwhile.  It may sound crazy, but the hard work is worth the euphoric feeling you get when you’re finished. I leave with happy, positive thoughts. Running the steps is free. No club membership! Plus it doesn’t take much time – about 45-minutes of time from start to finish.

I run barefoot because shoes cause injury to my feet and knees. Here I am running the Rocky Steps in Philly.


 What Motivates Me to Run

When I was a child I was always the last one chosen for sports teams whether at school or at play. I wasn’t an athlete; in fact I couldn’t hit a volleyball over a net, hit a baseball or golf well. But as I got older I realized that not being athletically inclined didn’t mean I had to be unfit. My father passed away when he was 40 from a heart attack and my mother had two forms of cancer suffering for 9 years before passing away at age 70.  I can’t change my genetics, but I realized I could get and stay fit, eat right and do what I can to stay healthy. Thinking about my parents’ health challenges motivates me every day. I live by my motto, “Shut your pie hole and move your ass!”

It’s Not Discipline

In the beginning, running steps was really challenging. I was already doing aerobics for years at home, but running up and down steps is really a strenuous workout. It took a lot of self-talking to get up and out of the house early every morning. But then after a few months, gradually I began to look forward to going. Now I can best describe running as a habit. It’s sort of like getting up and brushing your teeth. You just do it. I do have sluggish days when I just don’t feel like running, but I go anyway. My husband calls those “bonus days,” because although your time may be slower or your step numbers may be lower, you went out there and did something on a day when you just didn’t feel like doing it.

A white layer cake I made to celebrate.

What Running Has Taught Me

It’s wrong to label yourself in any negative way. “I’m not athletic,” “I’m too old,” “I’m uncoordinated” or “I don’t think I can or should do this or that.” Running has taught me that I can have as much energy as a 25-year-old, and that if I can stick to something athletic and challenging, then I can transfer that success to other areas of my life. The only boundaries are the ones we put on ourselves.




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Today I had a fantastic author visit at the Overtown Youth Center in Miami, FL. Last year some very caring people donated funds so my books could go to children who could most benefit from them. So I was thrilled to be able to deliver 100 books to this outstanding organization.

Since 2003, the Overtown Youth Center has provided a variety of youth enrichment programs to foster learning and empowerment in inner-city children who may not otherwise have these resources available to them. Among their programs, they offer academic support, after school services, summer camps, creative arts, physical fitness and nutrition programs, family activities and more in a beautiful facility in Overtown.

Elementary Program

The elementary school kids learned about the process of making a book, what inspires an author and about the plants, animals and climate of the rain forest.

Introductions by TK Pratt, Overtown Youth Center Community Relations Coordinator

Learning about how we recorded the book on CD

How my grandparents inspired me to create the characters Grandma Nellie and Grandpa Willie in the book

Learning why stick bugs are at risk in the rainforest

It may be gross, but we learn that birds are responsible for planting trees because they poop out seeds they eat!

A group celebration with just some of the many elementary students who each get a free book

Group hug!

Middle School Program

These kids, who are all interested in writing learned about the difference between traditional and self-publishing, writing inspiration, the importance of reading, geography literacy and how to stay fit and have energy if you want to be a visiting author.

Discussing countries I wrote about, including Madagascar, as a travel writer for cruise lines

Answering questions about what it takes to be an author

Showing off some of the benefits of my hard work as a stair runner

Challenged to do some men’s push ups

Middle school students who love to read and write pose with their Lilly Badilly books

I want to thank TK Pratt for inviting me to visit and welcoming me with open arms. The elementary students helped me drag big maps and five big boxes of books out of may car, and they did all the heavy lifting for me! All the children were so kind and respectful, it was a total pleasure. Also a big thank you to teacher Diana Gibson, who was so supportive of my program with the middle school students. There are some amazing programs available for children in my South Florida community, and Overtown Youth Center is at the top of the list. I look forward to another visit soon!



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