How Two Award-Winning Authors Are Improving Literacy with Pen Pal Buddies

Posted by Marina Orievsky on

        Did you have a pen pal growing up? Did you go on adventures through reading and writing? Two award-winning authors, Cameron
 Davison (Lil Boo) and Hayley Rose (Fifo the Bear) have created a literacy program developed to allow kids to do just that. Pen Pal Buddies is a project that encourages families to read, write and socialize in a fun way that also encourages discovery. Their book characters, Fifo the Bear and Lil Boo, are there to help fuel the creative process. The beauty of this project is that it gives young minds a chance to get away from video games and TV and gain a new perspective on friendship and the world around them. 

"The concept behind Pen Pal Buddies is to encourage three simple elements – Reading, Writing and Socializing! Here is what we encourage you to do:

-Read with your children.
-Write with your children. (Did you know this includes coloring?)
- Socialize what you read and wrote/drew about with each other. (Build a dialog.)
It is that simple." (-Pen Pal Buddies)

We got to chat with the creators of this great program. Check out the interview below: 


How did you and Hayley Rose come together to work on this project?

Hayley and I first met up at a book signing, as we have the same Publisher, Inkwell Productions.  Coincidently, we actually go further back in knowing each other through mutual friends and had no idea. After a few events together, along with a surprise capture of the infamous Fifo the Bear doll, we realized that, teamed up, we really hit it off.  We play off each other really well and the banter at times is
ultimately priceless.

It was while Hayley was traveling cross country that our publisher came to us regarding forming a Literacy Program for a Big Box Retailer, as they did not have one in place.  Within 24 hours, we created Pen Pal Buddies between both our children’s book characters, Fifo the Bear and Lil Boo.  Over the last month of its inception, we have been fine tuning the program to truly engage children in literacy with our back to basics approach in reading, writing and socializing!

Why did you want to start the Pen Pal Buddies Project?

Research shows that children thrive if they receive really good attention and care from their parents, teachers, and child care providers.  Speaking, reading, and writing are all linked.  Together, these elements can be learned and practiced throughout the course of each day in age-appropriate ways.  Children today spend nearly 55 hours a week watching TV, texting and playing video games.  Instead, we want to get them reading, writing and socializing as they share their adventures with one another, and a pen pal seemed to be a great way to incorporation all of those basics.

Did you have a Pen Pal growing up?

CD:  In the traditional sense of a Pen Pal, that I did not, however, wished I had.

HR: Yes, I had several pen pals, mostly from the United States and one from Japan.  We all had the love of music in common and would send tapes and pictures to each other.  I looked forward to the packages each month and dreamed about visiting my pen pals and exploring the world with them when I got older.

What can kids gain from this project? What do parents gain?

Kids ultimately gain the basics of reading, writing and socializing their adventures in a fun and creative way with the characters from our books that are known for their adventures.   Parents gain the security factor knowing who is on the other end of the pen pal program as well as gaining the benefit of encouraging their children to read, write and socialize!

Can you tell us more about Fifo The Bear and Lil Boo?

CD: Lil Boo is actually my son.  He is an adventurous and curious little boy that adores being outside.  His adventures are based on true  life experiences, as, of course, told by Daddy Bookins. Fifo The Bear is a brown bear from Denali National Park who stars in a series of fun and educational picture books for children. He is curious about the world around him and loves to share his adventures.

HR: I really wanted a main character that was identifiable and relatable. I thought a bear would be loveable, cuddly and comforting, and who wouldn’t love a fuzzy brown bear named Fifo?

Why the tag-line, "What is your adventure?"

We want to know about your adventures.  We all have them, why not write about them? The best thing about an adventure is it’s what you make of it…from waking up in the morning to your dreams at night!

To learn more about the Pen Pal Buddies project, visit

Help Pen Pal Buddies reach their funding goal >> HERE

Cameron Davison Family Hayley Rose Learning Marina Orievsky Pen Pal Buddies Setting Goals We Do

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