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?

Valentine’s Day 2017 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

bml-hamilton-2016Give the gift of reading to a child in need.

On Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library donates books to children and youth living in domestic violence, homeless, foster care and runaway youth shelters. The students at Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School are currently joining Blake Ansari’s efforts to bring the joy of reading to homeless children. Students are helping to fill the rainbow-colored shelves of the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families in San Francisco.

Book donations will be received by The Studios at Rooftop School’s Burnett & Mayeda Campuses, starting from MLK, Jr. Day of Service through Valentine’s Day, when the books will be delivered to Hamilton Families in the Tenderloin.

Please consider donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books, please) to children from birth to age 21.

Remember that literacy plays an important role for children and families. Especially in times of crisis, it can provide a bridge for individuals to find refuge in stories of others’ experiences (MacGillivray, 2010b). — “Supporting the Literacy Development of Children Living in Homeless Shelters”  http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/education_articles/3/

 

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Include a Note of Encouragement

With the 2016 Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library book drive, Rooftop School invited book donors to include a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader. The reading and writing of these notes helped create a special bond between two people who might never ever meet — the donor and the recipient. The Notes of Encouragement added an element of surprise and delight, while conveying positive thoughts of love, hope and gratitude.

“There’s a Whole New World in Your Book”

As a child who loves to read, Blake Ansari wanted to make sure that the homeless children had access to books. At the age of six, Blake began his youth philanthropy effort by donating 600 books to the PATH emergency family shelter in the Bronx in 2014.

On Valentine’s Day 2015, seven-year old Blake donated over 5,000 books along with a four ft. tall rainbow colored Blake Mini Library to children who are homeless living at Women In Need Glenwood Shelter in Brooklyn, New York. In 2016, Hamilton Families, San Francisco and Riverside Church Food Pantry, New York City were recipients of Blake Mini Library. This year, Leake & Watts Mother & Child Foster Care is the 2017 recipient of a Blake Mini LIbrary.

Blake’s mother, Dr. Starita Boyce Ansari, supports her son’s efforts to help underprivileged youth. Believing in the power of youth philanthrophy, Dr. Ansari offers us the model of giving circles, which meld responsiveness and altruism with community engagement, nurturing our students’ humanity. “Giving circles have shown the highest potential. A giving circle nurtures students appreciation and understanding of others’ needs, enabling them to come together to support charitable organizations or community initiatives for a set period of time. Their members become more aware of and engaged in the causes they fund, and learn how to make our world better, not just for them, but for all.”

To quote Blake: “When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self.”

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Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin: “Tender Land” with ArtsEd4All

2015 Mama Tender in the TNF

2016 Sunday Streets in the Tenderloin: 

TENDER LAND” with ArtsEd4All

Sunday, July 10, 2016, Noon – 4pm

at the Luggage Store Annex / Tenderloin National Forest

509 Ellis Street (between Hyde & Leavenworth)

 

Luggage Store Co-Artistic Directors/Artists Darryl Smith and Laurie Lazer of the luggage store have been working to transform Cohen Alley since 1989 from a place emblazed in a health-hazardous cesspool of bodily fluids and other dumped items, non-supervised open-air chemical experiments and illicit – criminal activities — to a vibrant community commons where people of all ages can gather for public art, performance, experimental art projects. and classes and activities. In May of 2009, the land that was then called Cohen Alley was reclaimed as “The Tenderloin National Forest.”

http://www.luggagestoregallery.org

 

“Ode to Mama Tender” — “In 1989, Darryl Smith planted a redwood tree in the shady asphalt. Help us to write a poem as lovely as Mama Tender, the redwood that is the “heartwood” of the Tenderloin National Forest.

 

“A Tree Grows in Cohen Alley” – Visitors to the Tenderloin National Forest will enjoy a wide range of trees and plant life. Citizen scientists can help to document the biodiversity in the Tenderloin National Forest with iNaturalist. Share your photographs of the nature that you discover in the TNF via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. #TNFTenderland

 

“Wood U Like 2 Play” — Let’s make beautiful music together! Enjoy a wood song sing-a-long.

 

“Common Scents” – The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. Take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of redwood. Make a scent diffuser to bring home.

 

For more information about Sunday Streets:
Sunday Streets 7.10.16

Susty Kids & Blake Mini Library Valentine’s Day 2016 Book Drive

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

December 2013, at the age of six, Blake Ansari decided to help end poverty by donating a Blake Mini Library to homeless shelters and food banks. Blake Mini Library supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. On Valentine’s Day 2015, Blake Mini Library donated 6,000 books to Women in Need, Inc., Brooklyn, New York.  This 2016 Valentine’s Day recipients of Blake Mini Library are Hamilton Family Center, San Francisco and Riverside Church Food Pantry, New York City.

This year, Susty Kids, Inc. joins Blake Mini Library to help improve the literacy of homeless children in San Francisco.
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10491224_654761778002367_2452349480978761792_nOur Coast-to-Coast Blake Mini Library book drive officially begins on Monday, January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Please join us by donating new and recently new books (no cloth books) to children from birth to age 21. Give children who are homeless a Blake Mini Library.

For additional information contact: blakedesouza@verizon.net or 646-285-1068

Like and Share Susty Kids, Inc. and Blake Mini Library book drive successes on Facebook.

#blakeminilibrary #‎youthphilanthropy‬ #‎literacy‬

#nomorehomelesschildren #‎youwillgotocollege

Click for a downloadable Blake Mini Library Flier

Additional Information & Resources:

The rising cost of living and stagnant wages of New York City has resulted in The City having the highest number of children in America living in homeless shelters. Forty percent of shelter residents are children.  

In San Francisco, the technology boom has displaced working-families for high income young professionals.  San Francisco has the second highest rate of homeless children in the nation.  Thirty percent of San Francisco’s homeless are children.

  • Opening Doors, updated and amended in 2015, is the nation’s first comprehensive Federal strategy to prevent and end homelessness. Goals include preventing and ending homelessness for families with children and youth in 2020.

https://www.usich.gov/resources/uploads/asset_library/USICH_OpeningDoors_Amendment2015_FINAL.pdf

  • Coalition for the Homeless State of the Homeless 2015 – New York City

http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/SOTH2015.pdf

  • 2015 San Francisco Homeless Count Report

http://sfgov.org/lhcb/sites/sfgov.org.lhcb/files/2015%20San%20Francisco%20Homeless%20Count%20%20Report_0.pdf