“Sound of Home” Summer Learning with the Del Sol String Quartet

Summer vacation provided an interesting opportunity to explore virtual learning with students at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. When the 2019-2020 school ended, students entering the fifth grade were presented with an open invitation to participate in a free summer music workshop with the Del Sol String Quartet. Our stated goal: To work with workshop participants to create a book and recording of an original musical composition for The Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project.”

With a more relaxed summer schedule, the pre-workshop assignments and on-line music workshop were designed to give students a self-driven, hands-on arts exploration over the course of a month. Students were presented with two assignments, in advance of a July 13th online Zoom workshop with the members of Del Sol. The online workshop aimed to create a low-stress experience where the participating students would have fun socially connecting with their peers through musical play.

A Change of Perspective with Digital Photography

The first summer assignment explored digital photography, through a series of prompts, inspired by nine collaborative poems written by the 4th grade class. Using a camera can help to open up new ways of appreciating and enjoying familiar physical surrounds, and the students had been sheltering in place at home since March 13. After confirming that each student had access to a cell phone that would enable them to take digital photos, the workshop participants were presented with nine exercises that would encourage students to explore their everyday surroundings. When we gathered online, it was a fun treat to enjoy seeing each of the individual responses to the same prompt and appreciate the personal way that each photographer addressed the assignment.

A Sonic Scavenger Hunt

The second assignment was inspired by Del Sol musical collaborator, composer Danny Clay, who enjoys creating playful games that help people to create music together. His Sonic Scavenger Hunt calls for students to look for objects at home based on a list of ten sounds types.

An eclectic collection of sounds, gathered at home by Leah:

Students brought their discoveries to the workshop, and together the group explored how their mini-orchestras could be put together into a musical composition. Students were also invited to record three sounds that describe “home,” found either inside their homes or outside. Sound of Home is the resulting collection, preserved for the future on the Internet Archive.

In addition to the sounds gathered at home by 4th graders, another collection, Sound of Home: San Francisco was recorded from a variety of San Francisco locations, and both collections shared in celebration of World Listening Day 2020. Since 2010, every July 18th, thousands of people all over the world have participated in World Listening Day by sharing soundscapes, in remembrance of renowned Canadian composer, music educator, and author, R. Murray Schafer. His World Soundscape Project developed the fundamental ideas and practices of acoustic ecology in the 1970s.

Teaching artist Andi Wong’s first visit to Angel Island was in 1989, when she and her husband brought her father-in-law Billy back to the island, for the very first time since he was admitted to the United States in February of 1931. Touring the barracks, Billy shared painful childhood memories of being held on the island for 18 days, not knowing when he would be allowed to leave. He sadly recalled how lonely and isolated he felt, especially when evening fell, and the sounds of music and people laughing drifted across the Bay.

The familiar soothing sounds of ocean waves lapping at the shore opens the collaborative musical composition featuring our youth orchestra of found sound. A new poem shared by artist/poet Flo Oy Wong, spoken in the Hoisan-wa dialect of the Angel Island immigrant poets, transitions to the sounds of the Del Sol String Quartet, playing a musical selection from composer Huang Ruo.

9 Poems for “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project”

“九 9 poems for Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project,” an online book of the poetry and artwork created by the soon-to-be 5th graders at Dianne Feinstein Elementary, builds upon existing school programming. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of Author’s Day at DFES, a highly anticipated school event which brings children’s book authors and illustrators to read to children in every classroom. Sadly, this event was cancelled, along with most of the arts events planned for Spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working to help the students to create their own book was a nice way to acknowledge this special school tradition. By archiving the book of student poems, photographs and essays on the Internet Archive for open access and download, this project also offers an example of how bookmaking might be explored by classes in the future. In addition to the students, staff key to the history of the school, the librarian Carol Fuerth and the art teacher Sharon Collins, were also engaged in the project, and the history of their contributions acknowledged, recorded and preserved for the future.

Reflections on Learning: 2019-2020

The Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein Elementary School is as an example of an integrated, expansive artistic collaboration that is possible with community engagement. In a time that calls for both collective imagination and coordinated action, there is great benefit in giving young people the opportunity to learn alongside artists, who model both discipline and adaptability in art and life.

The artistic project also serves as a record of an unusual time, when so much of what was considered to be “normal” changed. There will certainly be challenges ahead in these most uncertain of times, but as students, teachers and families prepare to begin a new school year, we take a moment of reflection to appreciate the lessons that we learned in 2020.

Since we can’t go to school, I really miss it. I miss DFES, my friends, my teachers, and everything from DFES. I grew up there and can’t believe I used to be in Kindergarten. DFES is important to me because of everything I have learned there.

In the course of developing this project with the school community, personal connections were made, internal resources discovered, and bridges were built across generations, between school and home. This arts project encouraged and amplified the diverse voices of a school’s community, while recording and preserving community history. Children were presented with a multitude of ways to reflect upon their own personal identities and consider the importance of their family, school and culture, as they created their own works of art. Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School presented an opportunity to see Art as the Ocean, not just as the Island.

And the learning continues…

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: the Angel Island Project,” composed by Huang Ruo and performed by the Del Sol String Quartet with the contemporary chamber choir, Volti, will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now.  https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelisland

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundations 50 Arts Commissions, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein ES, was made possible thanks to an Artists and Communities Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein ES

ISLANDS & WALLS

THE ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION was a global crossroads for immigrants from 80 countries around the world. (An estimated 300,000 people were detained at Angel Island, including 100,000 Chinese, 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South East Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos.) When the doors of the Angel Island Immigration Station shut in 1940, the hundreds of poems carved on the barracks walls by Chinese immigrants were locked inside and forgotten. The poems were rediscovered in 1970 by park ranger Alexander Weiss.

The Angel Island poetry carved into the barrack walls imitates a well-known classical style called “jueju poetry,” developed in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907), when the arts flourished and there were many advancements in the areas of engineering and technology. Perhaps the most important of these, especially in regards to the lives of children today, was the invention of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing allowed books to be printed in mass production. Books helped to increase literacy and to pass on knowledge. It was during this time that poetry became an integral part of the Chinese culture.

In 1976, California appropriated $250,000 for the preservation of the poetry and the building. Today more than 200 poems from the Angel Island barracks have been recorded. Using the latest computer graphics technology, research teams have discovered 172 Chinese poems, 33 graphic images, and 200 inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.

I look forward to the day when the descendants of the one million immigrants who came through Angel Island, including approximately 175,000 Chinese-Americans, can revisit the spot where their ancestors made such great sacrifices for them.

There are few more intimate and personal reminders of our history as immigrants than the poems carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks by those who awaited word on whether they would be admitted into this country.

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein on Angel Island Bill, April 28, 2005

NAMES & NATURE

The Dianne Feinstein ES fourth grade classrooms opened the door to The Angel Island Project on January 16, when the fourth graders were introduced to Angel Island history in a poetry workshop led by teaching artist Andi Wong.

The classroom poetry workshop began with an artifact found in her grandfather’s suitcase, which was used during his travels between China to the United States. As the object was passed from hand to hand around the room, the students were invited to guess what the mysterious object might be, and why would someone might pack this item for an ocean crossing? The student’s keen sense of smell offered an important clue, and the students agreed that this object smelled a lot like cinnamon!

Cinnamon (from far away Toishan)

Ancestors (uprooted)

Scent (wafts from the battered brown)

Suitcase. (Whispers from the)

Island (of Immortals to)

Angels (here on Earth)

Collaborative acrostic poem by Ms. McCullough’s 4th Graders, (with grace notes by Andi)

The fourth graders began by creating acrostic poems inspired by their names and nature, using words to capture and express their impressions of self and nature. The student poems will inspire the creation of a book and a musical composition that will be shared with audiences at the world premiere of Your Wall is Our Canvas.

THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE

Ms. Harrington, Ms. McCullough, and Ms. Rondone’s classes were working on the poetry project, as news began reporting of a COVID-19 pandemic, which required citizens all over the world to shelter in place. In this time, the classroom poetry inspired the grade level auction project, a mirror of words, framed with art created by the fourth graders working with art teacher Sharon Collins. Words and phrases were set in “stone”— stamped into earthen clay, using solar dyes to paint with sunlight in a time of great uncertainty. The visual art piece was created to inspire self-reflection and hopes for a future where Nature and Humanity are in harmony, joined together as One. The community was invited to come to school for an Art Walk on Friday, April 13, the final day on site for the 2020 school year. The work was auctioned to raise much needed funds for school programs.

VOICES OF RESILIENCE

Fifty years ago, Alexander Weiss found long-lost poems carved into the detention barracks walls. This discovery led to the Angel Island Immigration Station’s rebirth as a National Historic Landmark

The poetry written by fourth graders in the January 16 workshop at the start of 2020, took on a whole new meaning by March 13th, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Bay Area schools, ultimately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Nine collaborative poems from the 4th grade were submitted and selected for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s first virtual exhibition. Voices of Resilience celebrates the 50th anniversary of the re-discovery of over 200 Chinese poems carved into the walls of the detention barracks at the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. The rediscovery triggered a set of efforts to preserve the building, ultimately resulting in the designation of the site as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997.

The exhibition features a total of 55 poems including 22 historical poems and 33 contemporary poems selected from online submissions from the general public. In addition to the fourth grade DFES student work, the contemporary poems included contributions from former Angel Island detainees, their descendants, including The Last Hoisan PoetsIsland author Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – and an anthology by the Sato/Bukowski/ Haechler Family. The online exhibition ran from May 1 through through June 30, 2020, where the poems remain on the walls of the AIISF’s website archives — Voices of Resilience to be discovered by future visitors.

“At a time when there are significantly increased reports of anti-Asian harassment and assaults related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to AIISF’s Board and Staff to continue to ensure that the histories and stories related to the immigrant detention at Angel Island are not forgotten. Our hope is that Voices of Resilience serves a reminder of the empathy, connection, and resiliency that is important especially in times like this.” stated AIISF Executive Director Edward Tepporn.

BREAKING BARRIERS

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Drum Major Instinct, (1968)

In the future, it is hoped that the Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will premiere on the island. The new Angel Island Immigration Museum, the former Public Health Service hospital, will open in the future, allowing visitors to apply history’s lessons to nurture civil society and protect civil rights. The AIISF Virtual Gala, “Celebrating Our Dreams, Imagining Our Future,” takes place online on August 19, 2020. The event is free to attend, so please spread the word among your friends and family members. We can all help to ensure that the important histories and stories related to the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island are not forgotten, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing discrimination and attacks against Asians and other immigrant groups.

The 2020 Spirit of Angel Island award will acknowledge the dedication and service of California State Park Interpreter, Casey Dexter-Lee. For the past 20 years, Casey has worked on Angel Island, teaching the Immigration Station’s history to thousands of visitors, while also supporting the various programs and restoration efforts at the site.

In the same spirit, the young artists at DFES are using sound and images to communicate their ideas and emotions and inspire action and movement towards a more just society. The Breaking Barriers” assembly on Monday, January 13 with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby marked the 25th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by kicking off the fifth annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive led by the DFES student council to benefit homeless children in San Francisco. Students gathered at lunch time to process books donations by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers. The 2020 Blake Mini Library Breaking Barrier’s collection was created based on community donations and student reading recommendations.

Lunchtime origami workshops were also held to teach children how to fold tsuru, paper cranes symbolizing peace, compassion, hope and healing. In the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding (origami), the crane is a popular, easy-to-learn figure that children and adults of all abilities can create. At lunchtime, working together until our last day of gathering on the schoolyard, the children folded hundreds of cranes of all sizes and colors, in response to a call to action by Tsuru for Solidarity. All can contribute to the project which aims to fold 525,000 cranes, equalling the number of immigrants incarcerated annually. A community gesture to show that immigrant children, youths, families and other detainees seeking safety in our country will not be forgotten.


The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

“My Story, Your Book” – DFES Family Art Night 2

On Monday, January 27, 2020 at Family Art Night #2 with the Del Sol String Quartet, the families at Dianne Feinstein Elementary went on an “Imaginary Journey” with storytelling and bookmaking.

The quartet wove a musical thread though the evening, opening and closing the evening with composer Huang Ruo’s string quartet No. 3, “Calligraffitti.”

From “The Chinese Knew” by Tillie S. Pine and Joseph Levine, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, published in 1958. https://archive.org/details/chineseknew00pine

We also introduced author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and the annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking project at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, encouraging students to try make their own books. We shared news about the ongoing Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families shelter program in the Tenderloin, and shared news of the upcoming Author’s Day at DFES. The families learned how to do traditional Chinese bookbinding Cheryl Ball and Cheryl Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow.

Thank you to Mara, Patrick, Angela, Cynthia and Chae for the helping hands and set up with the #meatlessmonday spread. Lion love to Dr. Zaki, the DFES PTA Board and all of the DFES families who supported this community evening of creativity.

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

2020 MLK Day & Blake Mini Library

Today, January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Each year, the Blake Mini Library book drive kicks off on the MLK Day of Service, collecting through Valentine’s Day. The project encourages and supports the caring acts of children who work with their communities to collect books for the Hamilton Families shelter program here in San Francisco. This youth philanthropy effort supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. The project began in 2013, when a 6-year old boy named Blake Ansari began a book drive in New York City with the support of his family and friends.

In 2020, we invite friends and families to share acts of compassion and creativity, in celebration of the 5th annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive in San Francisco.

Students can participate by:

Adults can support students by:

  • Donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books please) to children from birth to age 21.
  • Sponsor a book title inspired by our 2020 theme: “Breaking Barriers”
  • When donating a book, write a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message that is hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader.
  • Record an audio read-aloud version of a book that can be enjoyed by beginning readers.
  • Learn more about the issue of homelessness and the impacts on children and finding ways to help. Baharav, H., Leos-Urbel, J., Obradovic, J., & Bardack, S. (2017). The Educational Success of Homeless and Highly Mobile Students in San Francisco Unified School District. Stanford, CA. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
  • Inspire children by showing that you support their efforts.

“When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self”

– Blake Ansari, founder of Blake Mini Library

#blakeminilibrary #‎youthphilanthropy #‎literacy #nomorehomelesschildren

Dianne Feinstein ES Family Art Night #2 with The Del Sol String Quartet

DFES Family Art Night #2 — “MY STORY – YOUR BOOK”

Monday, January 27, 2020; 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Dianne Feinstein ES Multipurpose Room

The second of four DFES Family Art Nights with the Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project will explore the importance of storytelling and the written word through the art of bookmaking. Cheryl Ball and C.K. Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow will teach us how to make our own books, and The Del Sol String Quartet will play!

In celebration of the 8th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, we’ll also consider the role that children’s books play in sharing the important stories and historical contributions of all Americans.

A light dinner is provided with the PTA meeting from 5:30pm – 6:00pm. 

Pictured from left to right: Traditional Chinese bookbinding, art from The Chinese Knew by Ezra Jack Keats (1958); art by Chris Sasaki from Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong: Immigrant and Artist (2019)

Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, these family evenings with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.

“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.

This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

“Honoring Our Ancestors” – DFES Family Art Night 1

The first DFES Family Art Night with the Del Sol String Quartet introduced the Angel Island Project, teaching artist Andi Wong and the members of the Del Sol String Quartet to the Dianne Feinstein ES community. The Del Sol String QuartetCharlton Lee (viola), Kathryn Bates (cello), Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser (violin) – got the evening off to a great start with a musical introduction. Everyone, adults and children, were invited to get up on their feet for an easy stroll around the room. Listening to the music, participants were invited to making contact, with smiles, head nods, touching feet, and secret handshakes in a traveling warm up to “G Song” by Terry Riley.

Andi offered a brief introduction to the history of Angel Island. Angel Island offers an important lesson on how stories and art have helped to carry historical information forward to the future. In 1970, Ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered the poetry carved by immigrants into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. The poems were translated and preserved in the 1980 book, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Mark Him Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, and the Chinese-American community worked together to preserve and protect this important historical site for future generations of Americans.

Families conducted a four question oral history interview. Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Based on the responses, parents worked with their children to write a simple poem on the theme of family.

Resolute in her faith, 
watching the wine dark sea. Her face
to the wind. Loving God.
Black as Night, bright as Light, she stands.

The J-H Family remembers a powerful strong woman who baked a great sweet potato pie.

We sing the family song.
We speak out Spanish language.
We visit our family in El Salvador and call.

The P-B Family remembers their family's arrival in the USA

As Del Sol performed Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, the children were invited to collaborate on work of art, an evening sky mural. Golijov’s composition finds hope and wonder in a world upended by war, when he visits the New York City planetarium with his five-year-old son, who sees the earth for the very first time — a “pale blue dot” in the vast cosmos.

In closing, we shared a wonderful opportunity to conduct an oral history interview. StoryCorps “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire using the free StoryCorps App. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Thanks to Megan Wong and Patrick Wu for helping to set up our workshop materials (heavy-lifting those giant pumpkins donated by family farmer Todd Fong of Elk Grove) and serving our Thanksgiving-themed #meatlessmonday dinner. Lion love to Dr. Salwa Zaki, Rory McMahon for the tech support and DFES PTA Board support from Angela Rosoff, Cynthia Inaba and Chae Reed. Most of all, thanks to the DFES families who helped to make this first community evening of creativity a big success.

When the event was done, those who wanted a pumpkin were welcomed to take one home to enjoy. We brought the biggest of the giant pumpkins down to Pescadero to share with Dan Sudran, founder of Mission Science Workshop and the Community Science Workshop Network. Dan introduced us to his friend Gabriel, a valued team member of Puente, who knows a lot about bees and seeds.

The best way to keep going and growing is to share the learning with others!

This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Valentine’s Day 2019 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

2019 marked the fourth annual Blake Mini Library book drive for the Hamilton Families Shelter Program, San Francisco’s leading service provider to families experiencing homelessness. It was wonderful to receive the invaluable support of the two student councils at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School and Rooftop Alternative Pre-K-8 School.

This year’s special curated book selection explored the theme, “From darkness, into the light.” Special editions donated to this year’s book drive included the 75th anniversary edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice) by Laura Atkins and San Yogi, She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton, Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford, The Wall of Birds: One Planet, 243 Families, 375 Million Years by Jane Kim and Thayer Walker and Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan.

On February 1, World Read Aloud Day 2019, with the support of the staff at the Internet Archive, we invited people to read aloud from The Dream Keeper and other poem by Langston Hughes, a book of poetry on Open Library. The ultimate goal of the Open Library is to make all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world. How wonderful to hear and record all of the different voices reading the poems out loud!

The Dream Keepers — the wonderful volunteer readers at the Internet Archive!

On Thursday, February 7, from 5:30pm-8pm, we hosted a special screening of Won’t You Be My Neighbor for the DFES community. The film is a very thoughtful and moving look at Fred Roger’s groundbreaking work in education, childhood and media, and the screening gave parents a wonderful opportunity to consider the impact of acts of kindness towards children. Blake Ansari, the young founder of Blake Mini Library, was six years old when he hosted his first book drive for homeless children and children in foster care in New York. Blake loves to read and wants other kids to have the opportunity to enjoy reading too.

Dianne Feinstein students help to process the books for donation.

We were especially grateful that children’s book author/illustrator Ashley Wolff was able to stop by Dianne Feinstein to lead “Kindness, Kids & Kritters,” a special art workshop that taught students how to draw the two DFES school mascots. Leona the Lion and Edwin the Panda couldn’t be more different, but, like Ashley, these two friends share a special love of books and reading. Ashley kindly created a special poster for the 2019 book drive.

After her visit, Ashley asked Blake if he had a favorite animal. What a wonderful surprise to receive Ashley’s special act of kindness a few days later… a brand new logo created especially for Blake Mini Library featuring the fastest land animal on Earth — the amazing cheetah!

A new logo for Blake Mini LIbrary — a special gift from Ashley Wolff

Thank you to all our friends and neighbors who helped to make the 2019 Blake Mini Library book drive such a special and speedy delivery!

Valentine’s Day 2018 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

In 2018, we kicked off our 3rd annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, and invited readers of all ages to help by writing notes of encouragement and donating a new or newly read children’s book to the children at Hamilton Families. On Read Across America Day (March 2, 2018) we donated 529 books, filled with handwritten notes of encouragement, including some special author autographs. Ms. Woo’s fourth graders accepted the Blake Mini Library Mannequin Challenge, and constructed and donated the LEGO “VR Library of the Future.”

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Rooftop Spirit for Harriet’s Spirit: #monumentalwomen

20180206BlakeMiniLIbraryIMG_5379This year, our book drive coincided with a world premiere opera — Opera Parallele’s production of Harriet’s Spirit, featuring a cast of eighth grade students from Rooftop School. The opera was set in both present day middle school and on the Combahee River during the Civil War, when Harriet Tubman become the first woman to plan and conduct a military raid.

In conjunction with Harriet’s Spirit, we honored Harriet Tubman and some of our other favorite “Monumental Women” with a curated collection of children’s books:

  • Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry
  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
    by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky
  • Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
  • The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
  • Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot
  • Coral Reefs by Sylvia Earle
  • Rickie and Henry by Jane Goodall
  • The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
  • Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris
  • Rickshaw Girl and You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
  • Can Art Change the World? by JR

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Connect to Your Best Self

Rooftop students were thrilled to be the very first recipients of a Blake Mini Library mini-grant from the Connect to Your Best Self Foundation. The grant enabled us to host a cookie and blue marble gratitude party for the children at Hamilton Families. As Ms. Kennedy’s 4th graders prepared for the cookie party, they made origami boxes for the blue marbles and wrapped copies of the Blue Marble coloring book, Rolling Along on A Blue Marble Dream. They also worked together to write a new story.

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“If you give a mouse a cookie and a blue marble…”

If you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse might enjoy a tiny blue marble too. If she eats the cookie (and another and another and another), she might turn blue like the marble. You could give her a glass of milk, but she might drink and turn the milk blue too. She also might throw up, but then at least she won’t be blue anymore. But she might get hyper and need to run around outside. You could take her outside and let her run around the grass field five times, but she might get a side stitch after eating so many cookies. If she lays down and passes out, you could run to get a glass of cold water and chuck it at her to wake her up. When she wakes up, she might see a blue-eyed wolf. If the wolf comes closer and closer and closer, the mouse might run faster and faster and faster. If the mouse runs really fast back to you, be sure to open the door to let her in. She will be happy to be safe with her cookie, her blue marble… and you!
— A “rolling” cookie party story by Ms. Kennedy’s 4th grade class of 2018

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I 💙 U So Much!

Thank you to Blake Mini Library founder Blake Ansari, The Connect To Your Best Self Fund, and many our generous donors and youth philanthropists who made this year’s book drive a special celebration for all involved.

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International Children’s Book Day 2017

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of International Children’s Book Day. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster.

Let Us Grow with The Book!

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What a joy to hold a new book in one’s hands! At first you don’t know what the book is about. You resist the temptation to open the last page. And how good it smells! It is impossible to divide this smell into components: printing ink, glue… no, it is not. There is a particular smell of a book, an exciting and unique one. The tips of some pages would stick together as if the book had not woken up yet. It wakes up when you start reading it…

This year’s ICBD message comes from poet/author Sergey Makhotin and illustrator Mikhail Fedorov of IBBY Russia.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” — Hans Christian Andersen

While many readers may be familiar with Anderson’s Fairy Tales, they may be unaware that Anderson’s works have become more widespread than any other author ever (only the Bible has been translated into more languages). Anderson grew up poor in Odense, Denmark, the only son of Hans, a self-educated shoemaker and Anne Marie, an illiterate washerwoman. For most of his childhood he lived in poverty with his parents in their one-room home. Learn how Anderson’s vivid imagination and love of the theater helped him to escape the lowest ranks of society at Hans Christian Anderson Centre and the British Library’s Online Gallery.

https://archive.org/stream/FairyTalesByHansChristianAnderson?ui=embed

KPMG’s Family for Literacy partners with First Book

On Wednesday, March 22nd, KPMG, through its KPMG’s Family for Literacy (KFFL) program, partnered with First Book to bring 10,000 brand new, FREE books to young San Francisco readers.

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It was a great event, hosted by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Wonderfully organized, the KPMG’s Family for Literacy Book Fair was ably supported by a helpful team of volunteers. A big thank you to Chi and Thor, who helped with packing and loading eight boxes of children’s books for delivery.

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Did you know?

  • More than half of U.S. public school students live in low-income households.1
  • In some of the lowest income neighborhoods, there is just one book for every 300 children.2
  • Two-thirds of children from low-income families lack access to books.3
  • 79 percent of fourth graders from low-income households do not read proficiently – a key predictor of a child’s future educational and economic success.4
  • Poor educational outcomes are tied to poverty, unemployment, illness, dependence on welfare, social exclusion and crime.5

https://www.firstbook.org/about-first-book/understand-the-need

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Take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge

The Mannequin Challenge is a new trend in internet video where a group of people enact a single moment in time, remaining frozen in place while a camera pans around them and music plays.

This video tapping into the popular social media meme was created by the staff members of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Led by the 14th Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, the participants can be seen using a variety of reading material — magazines, books and phones and digital tablets — in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

“Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows.”

Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to serve as the Librarian of Congress, holds that her passion for reading came from her favorite childhood book, “Bright April,” a 1946 children’s story book written and illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli, who later won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature. The Nation’s Librarian knows that children need to see themselves reflected in the books that they read. “Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows,” says Hayden.

Rooftop Students Take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge

bml-a-whole-new-worldThe Library of Congress Mannequin Challenge and Emerging Traditions traces the historical antecedents of the Mannequin Challenge back to the advent of photography and the tableaux craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Library of Congress blog entry on the social media trend also notes that “A common theme seems to be an expression of group identity, of clubs, classes, groups of friends, athletic teams, organizations, musical groups, and others: “this is who we are” summed up in a short, shareable video.”

Rooftop fourth graders had a whole lot of fun creating their own Mannequin Challenge videos. These young librarians-in-training want to open up a whole new world of reading for all children to enjoy free access to books — 24/7.

Won’t you take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge too?