History of Tiger Tuesday

How The Million-Selling Little Twirps Morphed Into 21st Century Tiger Tuesday

1970s reading program characters The Little TwirpsLinda and Al Silbert created trademarked Little Twirps characters in 1976. Their leading character was a little boy named, Tiger. Tiger and his siblings lived in charming Twirptown, as the hand crafted creations of Mr. & Mrs. Elias T. Twirp. Making dolls, and the extensive dollhouse village, was the life-long hobby of the Twirp family. Their passion in life, Twirptown was nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Twirp family was not without its share of ups and downs. There was even a time when Twirptown was almost lost forever. Its near demise was due to the greed of a land developer and his powerful and unscrupulous accomplices. Only moments before it was to be bulldozed into extinction, Twirptown was saved by the most amazing chain of events. Miraculously, without any warning, Tiger, the doll that Mr. & Mrs Twirp had just finished, came to life and leaped off of the work table and out of the door. As he ran up and down the streets of Twirptown, everything in this lovely toy village was transformed into a dream come true. All of Twirptown came alive!

The subsequent adventures in Twirptown are the basis of eight storybooks (1977) and an unlimited number of humorous and heartwarming episodes.

Teaching Kids Life’s Little Lessons With Colorful Characters and Exaggerated Humor

Teaching-kids-with storiesThe story lines were based on problematic situations involving the colorful, well defined characters.

Their appeal is based on the fact that children find enjoyment and comfort seeing others deal with and triumph over problems similar to the ones that they experience themselves. The combination of fantasy, humor, and familiarity, assures that the story pace remains lively and the interest level remains high.

While readily acknowledging the high entertainment value of these stories, adults recognize that the roles these characters assume, and their social interactions, have a very positive influence on children in their formative years.

Each Character Has a Specific Purpose, Teaching Kids More Than Just Reading

Tuffy's Bike Race Learning Life's LessonsTiger, the leading character, was and still is today, gentle, caring, sensitive, self-confident and impulsive. He is also an inventor with a wild imagination, and a high mechanical ability. He’s remarkably successful with his inventions. Tiger, then and now,  is quite a colorful and likable character.

Thurman, Tiger’s big, lovable, shaggy dog  was, and still is,  Tiger’s constant companion, his best friend, and his unwitting test pilot. Tiger often relies on Thurman to alert him to problems and to assist him in their solution. Thurman’s fears are his downfall. Since Tiger spends much of his time in his tree house, it’s amazing that Thurman is always with him as Thurman is afraid of heights. He is also afraid of the dark, staying alone,  lightning and thunder and dogs.

Tiger’s pet frog, Marshmallow is more than a pet; she’s Tiger’s conscience. Being an exceptionally good listener, she is a good friend to Tiger. She is also Tiger’s chief critic. While she never speaks, she and Tiger somehow manage to communicate.  And when her “ribbit ribbit” becomes “RIBBIT JIBBIT!” we know something is seriously awry.

Reaching Critical Acclaim

Dr. Linda Silbert and kids performing.The Little Twirps, featuring Tiger, Thurman & Marshmallow, received rave reviews. Here are just a few:

Your work is truly a step forward in the area of children’s books and literature.” –Secretary of the Board of Advisors, of the Unity of Livonia Church, Michigan

The Family Literary Foundation of the Armed Services featured titles from The Little Twirps storybooks during the first Persian Gulf War. They videotaped American soldiers reading books for their children to view while they were deployed in the Middle East.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation featured one of the titles in their program.

I open every one of my talks by reading “Whitney’s New Glasses.” –The president of a National Reading Association

I appreciate the type of work that you are doing. I think it is something extremely constructive, and a positive influence, since most educations are becoming negative with regards to personal development, initiative and motivation.”–President of the Jaycees in Coral Gables, Florida

Family Circle selected The Little Twirps books to recommend under the News for Parents column.

I love your books! The values and concepts are those I want my children to grasp.” –Parent, West Virginia

It is always a pleasure to review and recommend high caliber material to the 22,000 subscribers of DAD’S ONLY. Understanding People [Little Twirps] Books certainly qualify in that category.” –DAD’S ONLY

…The Little Twirps are delightful and charming. Through subtle humor, affective learning takes place ‘unconsciously.’ Children can relate with the Little Twirps in a personal way, often through similar experiences…. Please continue to prepare more of these excellent materials. Children need them desperately.” –Director of the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York

Little Twirps’ is a terrific concept. Your imagination is delightful.” –The Disney Channel

Students celebrate readingLicensing agent, Mark Freedman, (from Alvin and the Chipmunks) fell in love with Tiger and the Little Twirps in the late 1980s. He got CBS TV interested in using the property, but the project was sidetracked when he took on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property and turned it into a phenomenon.

As the years went on, small individually owned book stores, and lately the chain book stores, were going out of business and a generation of young learners no longer had access the the childhood memories of their parents.

By the year 2000, we put aside Tiger and the Little Twirps and began to write and publish books for parents and teachers. We also began to create educational games. In addition, we began to focus on quality tutoring and test-prep in the suburbs of New York City.

2014 Mom's Choice Award Winner for Fiction (Gold)

2014 Mom’s Choice Award Winner for Fiction (Gold)

Silbert and Bress Publications evolved into Strong Learning Publications and the tutoring and test-prep division became Strong Learning Centers. We’ve helped many thousands of children learn how to read, write and do arithmetic, prepare for college, and succeed in school and beyond. (See more at StrongLearning.com)

In 2010, we decided to combine and update the reading program and all the card and lotto games from the Little Twirps era. Tiger would still be the central character, along with his dog Thurman and his frog Marshmallow. We changed some names, updated the story lines and published The Tale of Tiger Tuesday which won the 2014 Mom’s Choice Award Gold Medal for Fiction.

We then combined the research and best strategies we had developed in the Strong Learning Centers® tutoring practice to produce the Tiger Tuesday Reading Program, which we’re proud to call the “Funnest reading program in the whole wide world!”

New Ways to Teach Kids to Read

Interestingly, some of the best ways to teach children to read have not changed much. You still begin by teaching the alphabet and consonants before moving into more complex words and their meanings. But over the years we’ve also explored and researched the most effective ways of teaching kids to read and to love to read. Strategies include playing simple fun games and acting in plays. Basically, kids are learning to read while they’re playing. It’s amazingly easier to teach kids — especially reluctant readers — to read when they perceive that they’re playing, instead of doing schoolwork!

Also fun is that the new Tiger Tuesday Reading Program includes simple props and scenery from Tuesday Street that can be used on Smart boards to help them retain what they learn. The program also helps build self-confidence.

Kids are drawn into the Tiger Tuesday program because they’re part of it. We’ve arranged that kids can receive personalized emails from Tiger Tuesday himself, which they love to share and discuss, especially when used in the classroom setting.

We’ve also seen great improvement in reading and writing by providing kids the opportunity to borrow and take home Thurman the Dog or Marshmallow the Frog stuffed animal dolls. They eagerly fill out the “Tiger Tuesday’s journal page” that describes how their borrowed toy friend spent the weekend or vacation visit with them in their home.

If you’d like to know more about Tiger’s history, click here.

Teacher Trusted and Approved

We’ve spent years asking reading teachers, tutors, school administrators, parents and homeschoolers what they’d like to see in an improved reading program. We asked, What Do Beginning Readers Need?

We want to publically thank all those who provided input. We’ve included everything you requested.

Flexibility.  A program that can be used for primary or supplemental reading comprehension and vocabulary development. One that also helps kids who need to build self-esteem.

Detailed Teacher’s Guide. A guided reading program with a detailed and complete Teacher’s Guide with open-ended questions and answers.

Assessment Tools. Easy assessment tools that let them know when to move the child to the next module.

Orton-Gillingham based literacy guided reading approach.  A program to be balanced with a literacy guided reading approach, compatible with the Orton-Gillingham phonics approach, integrating phonics and whole language components.

We could write a whole blog post on what teachers need to help kids learn how to read, but we’ve said enough.

We applaud your efforts and acknowledge the important a role you play in the lives of young blossoming readers.

If you’re a teacher, school administrator, tutor, parent or anyone who is interested in helping a child learn how to read, click over to Is Tiger Right for You?

We appreciate your interest and hope to support you as you help your young readers. If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you. Please post a comment below.

Phonics Centered — Consistent with Orton-Gillingham — Multisensory