Celebrate Reading Month with local literacy expert Melissa Brooks-Yip

. February 28, 2017.
Melissa Brooks-Yip and her family enjoy the diversity of Ann Arbor 
and its many cultural offerings.
Melissa Brooks-Yip and her family enjoy the diversity of Ann Arbor and its many cultural offerings.

Melissa Brooks-Yip is curled up with her two girls, Ella and Izzy, reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, their new favorite book by Grace Lin. Lin weaves traditional Chinese fairy tales into her own stories. Brooks-Yip’s husband, Danny, is also hooked on the books, which have introduced his girls to tales he heard growing up in Hong Kong. Brooks-Yip says, “They’re learning about their father’s culture and hearing great stories along the way.” Brooks-Yip has a knack for getting great books into her girls’ hands. They allow her to try new ideas that in turn inform the recommendations she makes to the teachers she works with as Coordinator of Instruction for Literacy at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD).

Finding the right fit in Ann Arbor

Brooks-Yip moved to Ann Arbor with her family four years ago and loves living here. “Everything I want is right here: classes, cultural experiences, everything. It’s almost ridiculous how nice it is. I don’t think I’d live anywhere else in Michigan.” While the girls were born in the East Lansing area—both Brooks-Yip and her husband have degrees from Michigan State—the family never felt culturally connected to that region. Day trips to Ann Arbor’s Farmer’s Market, museums like the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and bookstores like Literati have helped the young family find what they were searching for. “We’re a mixed race family, so that has a lot to do with why we moved here; we noticed the diversity and how people raise their families. It’s not just diversity on campus.”

Celebrate March is Reading Month

To celebrate March is Reading Month, Brooks-Yip will do what she does best: she’ll read with her girls every day, steeping them in words, stories, folk tales, and the love of language. “Ella takes books to the dinner and breakfast table. We have books in every room of our house. I have floor to ceiling bookshelves. We’re immersed in it. They just live it all the time,” she says. At her job, Brooks-Yip uses her background as an English teacher and literacy consultant to support teacher leaders by organizing and facilitating ongoing professional development. She helps educators bring the best current literacy practices into their classrooms through the three groups she administers for K-12 teachers across Washtenaw and Livingston Counties: WC (Writing Collaborative), IDLL (Inquiry into Disciplinary Literacy and Learning), and SOEL (Study of Early Literacy). All three groups are dedicated to giving teachers the best tools available to inspire life-long readers and writers.

Looking for ways to partake in reading festivities this month? Brooks-Yip suggests checking out the impressive programing at the Ann Arbor District Libraries and filling your house with books from the library or your favorite local bookstore. She glows when speaking of Literati, “I love their staff recs and reviews, their coffee, and the kid’s section. It all feels like a big city book store right in our own downtown.”

Q&A With Melissa Brooks-Yip

What’s your favorite library in Ann Arbor? The newly renovated library at Westgate has a huge, thoughtfully planned kid’s area where my girls can read. They can spend hours there while I sip Sweetwaters coffee.

What’s your go-to coffee shop? I love Songbird Café for that coffee shop feel, and I can go there to read or do some work.

What’s your favorite museum in the area? The Natural History Museum is our favorite. My daughters really like the new mammoth from Chelsea.

You plan a lunch out with your daughters. Where do you go? It’s would have to be Tea Haus. Their British Quickie is perfect for lunch, and it has a great location and atmosphere. They even have books about tea in different countries!