Reading Nights that Engage Families in Amazing Adventures

By Willy Nilly Stories
Three young girls and a boy are outdoors during summer. They are laying in the grass and reading a book together.

Have you ever hosted a Literacy Night? It’s a popular way for families, teachers and school administrators to celebrate the love of reading with a lively mix of read-aloud stories, activities and adventure. It also brings teachers and families together to work as partners in student development.

A well-planned Literacy Night will:

  • Encourage Family Engagement. Families visit the school, meet the teachers and participate in reading activities with other families
  • Build Your School Community. Families mingle with one another, learn from each other and establish connections that may extend beyond Literacy Night
  • Teach a Love of Reading. Parents and teachers model their love of reading to children and each other
  • Demonstrate Techniques for Reading Aloud. Families learn new ways to engage their children in reading

Willy Nilly BooksWilly Nilly Stories offers a pre-planned Literacy Night Kit which includes everything you need to execute a successful Literacy Night at your school—posters, email invitation, DVD video, books, activities and event door prizes. The kit includes three Willy Nilly Stories adventure books written by Jim Henry. Willy Nilly Stories are full of adventure and promote kindness, friendship and always doing the right thing.

Here’s an excerpt from Book One: The Lost Treasure of Mount Methuselah

Best friends, Willy Nilly and Thumper were exploring a cave when they found what looked like a treasure map.

“I know it might be really risky, Willy Nilly, but we could do a lot of good with this treasure,” Thumper said. “We’d be able to help Widow Rabbit, and maybe buy some swing sets for the Hoop ‘n’ Holler town park so the kids can have a place to play. If there’s enough treasure, we could do even more to help others.”

“You’re right,” Willy Nilly said. “It seems the rewards could be greater than the risks. Let’s look for the treasure. But we have to be really careful and keep our eyes wide open.”

The friends examined the parchment. They hoped it would be a map that would lead them to treasure. But it showed only a skull and five skeleton footprints–underneath which were the letter X and the number 10. There were also three bony fists balled up and a very mysterious symbol: a single eye bobbing on a sea of water.

“This has to be some kind of code, but what, exactly?” Willy Nilly wondered out loud. He began to think. Thumper could see it. He always knew
when his best friend was trying to solve a problem. He closed one eye and squinted the other. The whiskers on his lip bunched up, and he tapped his foot.

“I’ve got it!” Willy Nilly said.
(And then always says, “I’ve got it.” Thumper remembered.)

“What?” Thumper asked.
“There are five bony footprints, right? Under the footprints is the letter X, and right after that is the number 10. Five times ten equals fifty—”
Thumper interrupted. “That could mean fifty footprints.”

“Exactly. With the skull, it probably means ‘ahead fifty steps’. The three bony fists must mean we have to knock on something three times. The floating eyeball…I’m not sure what that means at all.”
“It has to be some sort of clue to the location of the treasure,” Thumper said. “Maybe the eyeball is where the treasure is!”

They looked down and saw a bony footprint—just like the one on the parchment—and an arrow pointing in the direction of a tunnel that led off the main cave. The sound of thunder boomed and rumbled against the cave walls as Willy Nilly and Thumper started down the path.

Sixty paces into the darkness, Willy Nilly held out his arm and stopped Thumper.
“What? What is it?” Thumper asked Willy Nilly.
“Wires. Lots of them,” Willy Nilly replied. “right across the path.”
“This must be it,” Thumper said.
The two friends studied what was most certainly a trap.

Thumper stepped in front. “I’ll go first. If…we’re…really careful…we can…get by…these…wires,” he said. He carefully picked up one leg at a time. A moment later, he cleared the wires. He reached out his paw to steady Willy Nilly as his friend stepped across. Willy Nilly had one leg over when a sudden crash of thunder startled him. His right leg jerked, accidentally touching the wires. A new rumbling sound started far off, something that
was more deafening than the thunder. It grew closer! And louder!

The huge boulder from the entrance of the cave was rolling directly toward them! Holding their torches firmly, they began to run. The light danced off the walls, barely illuminating the next step. In the faint and constantly moving light, they noticed a huge hole in the middle of the path ahead. Jumping over or falling into it were the only two options the friends had…

Discussion Question

What do you think happens next?

Send Willy Nilly and Thumper your ending to this story by emailing and we’ll send you a special Willy Nilly & Thumper gift! Check to see if your story ending is published on our website!

Have you had an adventure today? Send us a photo of your adventure! We’ll post your picture on our website and you’ll be entered to win a Willy Nilly Stories backpack filled with fun! For more info, visit

Willy Nilly Stories is a proud National PTA advertising partner. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service. No endorsement of Willy Nilly Stories is implied.

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