Young Mom Promotes Love of Reading Week and Arizona's Birthday

Young Mom Promotes Love of Reading Week and Arizona's Birthday

As a graphic designer and painter, Julie Rustad knows plenty about eye-catching imagery. As the mother of a toddler, she knows how to keep children entertained. As the daughter of two educators, and with experience as a college instructor, you could say teaching is in her genes.

Julie has combined all three talents with 'Desert Dwellers: Southwest Animals from A-Z', a set of colorful flash cards with facts and stories about the subjects, and kid-friendly descriptions.

A tarantula carries the description 'Fuzzy Wuzzy'. A vulture is described as 'Not A Picky Eater'. A hummingbird is proclaimed a 'Show Off!' From Anna's Hummingbird through to the Zebra-Tailed Lizard, the flash cards offer a unique desert take on the alphabet.

Julie has been promoting reading among elementary and preschool-age children with visits to Tucson schools. Friday February 14th, she will promote Love of Reading Week with a visit to the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

"We're gonna have a blast combining fun facts about Arizona history, games with the Desert Dwellers Flash Cards, and an art project! I love the creativity and energy of the kiddos - Their fresh perspectives teaches me as much as I am educating them."

Julie, who runs award-winning graphic design firm 24-7 Creative Solutions, developed the cards after taking a year off work to spend time with her new baby. A long-time painter, she was itching to get creative again. At around the same time, she was reading more alphabet books to her son, Syver, now 3.

"I noticed it was all 'N is for Narwal' and 'U is for unicorn'. We don't see many of those in Tucson!" she says. So while Syver napped, Julie dug out her paintbrush and acrylics and set to work.

Julie gives these tips for parents and educators using her flash cards:

  • Use the cards to read stories and facts about each animal. You or the child(ren) can make up a story about that animal or a group of animals.
  • Hand each child a card and have them act like the animal on it, giving clues and facts so others can guess what it is.
  • Put up an animal of the week in your home or classroom, and have additional activities related to that animal.

Customers can order the Desert Dwellers Flash Cards, priced at $20 each (with shipping), along with colorful greeting cards and prints online at

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