Convent of the Sacred Heart Junior Publishes Book to Support Children’s Literacy Organization

The student has created a publishing club and published a book to help raise awareness of children’s literacy challenges.


While volunteering as a tutor for elementary school students from impoverished areas three years ago, Convent of the Sacred Heart junior Marissa Licursi noticed the children struggled with literacy. Since then she has been involved with various organizations that help the less fortunate but felt she needed to do more to address the challenge of children’s literacy.

Licursi, a Rye, NY resident, enlisted the help classmate Sydney Walker to start the Publishing Hearts club at school last year. 

“In Publishing Hearts, our philosophy is that if you teach a child to read, they ideally will be in a better position and at less of a risk of being homeless, jobless or hungry. If you invest money in educating a child, they will be much better off later in life,” Licursi said.

More than one-third of American children entering kindergarten today lack the basic language skills they will need to learn to read, Licursi said. To help change this statistic, Publishing Hearts’ first book “A Paw and a Flipper,” is intended for young readers between the ages of two and six.

Over the last year, Licursi and Walker guided the club through the process of publishing a children’s book, “A Paw and a Flipper.”  They now aim to sell 1,000 copies and will donate 90 percent of the profits to the children’s literacy organization, Reach Out and Read, five percent of profits to their sister school in Uganda and five percent to a summer academy program.

The book went on sale two weeks ago and can be purchased  at www.publishinghearts.webs.com for $16.

Publishing the book was a challenge at times, Licursi said, but the group of girls stuck together to create a plot, write the storyline and illustrate the book. They worked with publisher Phil Whitmarsh to complete the project.

“A Paw and a Flipper,” is about a polar bear named Charlie who accidentally falls into the Arctic waters when fishing. The oceans carry him from the North Pole to Antarctica. A small penguin named Lily befriends Charlie and together, they bring amusement and laughter to readers while capturing themes of unity, acceptance of others, and friendship.

Now that the book is complete, the girls aim to sell the book to the youngest students at their schools and to use online resources like Amazon, local libraries and local events to reach their goal of selling 1,000 copies.  

Members of the Publishing Hearts Club include:


  • Bianca Chiappelloni, Greenwich,
  • Kensie Almeida, White Plains, NY
  • Sophie Radtke, Rowayton
  • Maddie Caponiti, Rye, NY
  • Emily Hirshorn, Harrison, NY
  • Anneliese Hummel, White Plains, NY
  • Grace Conrad, Armonk, NY
  • Becca Quirke, Rye, NY
  • Margot McCloskey, Bronxville, NY
  • Jane Mikus, Larchmont, NY
  • Vanessa Raskin,  Greenwich
  • Stephanie Velasquez, Stamford
  • Mo Lietner, Darien
  • Colleen O'Neill, Norwalk
  • Shelby Holland, Bronxville, NY
  • Abby Smith, Wilton
  • Catie Ruzika, Greenwich


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