State Theatre New Jersey

Events & Programs

Early Childhood Arts & Literacy Program


Children love to see storybook characters come to life onstage. But in recent years the arts have been increasingly eliminated from school curricula and family life. To address this issue and introduce youngsters to the performing arts, State Theatre New Jersey created the Early Childhood Arts & Literacy Program.

The Early Childhood Arts & Literacy Program uses performance as a tool for developing reading skills in kids aged five and under, providing early arts exposure that underserved youngsters would be unlikely to experience otherwise.

The State Theatre presents a virtual performance featuring literary adaptations of beloved children’s tales for local pre-K and kindergarten students. We also provide each classroom with the books on which these delightful performances are based, all free of charge. The program was built upon and inspired by research showing that engaging young children with lively, colorful stories boosts comprehension, vocabulary, and interest.

First launched in 2016, the Early Childhood Arts & Literacy Program has featured such favorites as Guess How Much I Love You, The Gruffalo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Rainbow Fish, and The Man Who Planted Trees. The program serves local pre-K and kindergarten students, including students from local Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) preschools.

Mister G holds a copy of the book Lilah Tov

In 2021, State Theatre's featured Early Childhood Arts & Literacy Program performance is by Latin Grammy® Award-winning artist, author, activist, and educator, Mister G! Mister G, also known as Ben Gundersheimer has been hailed as “a bilingual rock star” by the Washington Post and has toured internationally playing everywhere from Lollapalooza and Lincoln Center to climate change rallies on Capitol Hill. His spirited bilingual performances aim to help children see each other across borders and foster cross-cultural connections.

Mister G's featured book Lilah Tov, is based on an original lullaby. The book and the song depict the journey of a young girl as she leaves home with her family in search of a better life in a new land. Illustrated by Israeli artist, Noar Lee Haggon, this story celebrates the beauty of our natural world and the spirit of resilience in a refugee family.


The Early Childhood Arts & Literacy program is supported in part by NJM Insurance Group and PNC Bank.

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