Read Across America 2021

Happy Read Across America Day!

In normal times, today is the day that we would be delivering the Blake Mini Library book donations to be enjoyed by the young readers in celebration of Read Across America Day. But as you know, the times are anything but normal.

Thanks to Christina and the fantastic team at Hamilton Families, we were able to find a way to help fill a need. The shelter was in need of Spanish language books.

Vijay knows it’s cool to know another language.
from ¡Solo Pregunta! (Just Ask!) by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López

We are happy to report that thanks to the generosity of community. We received the email this afternoon from First Book confirming that our shipment of 100 Spanish Language children’s books is on its way! We would like to offer our deepest thanks to the following individuals for their generous support of the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive.

Young Wong
Tony Fong
Patrick Wu
Dennis Austria
Noel Santos
Sam Hom
Victor Yan
Alan Hom
Dennis Dong
Andy Kwong
Loangle Newsome
Karl Chan
Jill Haw
Karin Rylander
Frank Bravo
Olga Kiselev
Kim Altamero

Felicia Westphal
Frank Obi
Gurneet Kaur
Edgar Cardenas
Brentyn Carder
Chris Wong
Aida Austria
Tony Miranda
Jun Merced
Mao Elma
Noel Asiatico
Jerry Poblador
Stephen Macasero
Paul Campbell
Dori Garcia Campbell
Teresa Proano & Family Ruby Roque Quan

Theng Mangabat
Ryan & Michelle Wong
Cindy Castronovo
Jon Wong
Jelin Hoh
Airene Austria
Joey Jao
Emmanuel
Alan Merced
Aldrin Austria
Todd Fong
Debbie Fong
Jan Willemse
Jamie Willemse
Olivia Hicks
Charles & Nuria Higueras
Alex Higueras

“How do you use your voice?”
Rafael López’s delightful illustrations enliven Sonia Sotomayor’s ¡Solo Pregunta! (Just Ask!)

¿Cómo usas tu voz? (How do you use your voice?)

In celebration of Read Across America Day, we started working on a new project –  a way to safely celebrate reading together. Today, we are inviting friends to help to record a short reading from Sonia Sotomayor’s wonderfully story for young children, in both Spanish (¡Solo Pregunta!) and English (Just Ask!). 

If you would like to help to record either the Spanish or English Language text for one of the characters in the book, please reach out and let us know that you would like to help by recording a reading for this special Read Across America Day project.

Readers are using the voice memo app on their phones or downloading a free app such as Audacity to record their readings in a quiet spot. Once we receive all of the audio files, the individual readings will be used to create one community read aloud file which we will share with the shelter.

A big thank you to our community of read aloud volunteers:

Alec Hawley, Antigone Trimis, Audrey Pasillas, Charles Higueras, Charlton Lee, Joanie Juster, Kathryn Bates, Linda Higueras, Maggy Frias, Mara Grimes, Maribel Pasillas, Miriam Magaña, Norma Rodriguez, Nuria Higueras, Pat Zamora, Rosa Rodriguez Perry and Tara Cartegena.

If you are interested in joining this project, we are keeping track of the people who have volunteered to read HERE, where you can see which characters are spoken for so far.

If you know of anyone who would really enjoy reading for this project, please invite them to join us for Read Across America Day. We welcome and celebrate community participation!

“There are uses to adversity, and they don’t reveal themselves until tested. Whether it’s serious illness, financial hardship, or the simple constraint of parents who speak limited English, difficulty can tap unexpected strengths.” – Sonia Sotomayor

2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

Every year, since 2016 when the small rainbow-colored library was first built and donated by San Francisco school children to the homeless shelter, ArtsEd4All has hosted the annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive benefitting the Hamilton Families. Our connection to this philanthropic effort began in 2014, after reading a story about a 6-year old boy in New York City named Blake Ansari who began a book drive with the support of his family and friends. Our annual Blake Mini Library book drive in San Francisco is typically held from Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to Valentine’s Day, with delivery to the shelter taking place on Read Across America Day. The project presents an opportunity for people of all ages to work together to share a love of reading through small acts of kindness that also encourage and support the philanthropic efforts of school children.

The 2020 Blake Mini Library Book Drive was one of the last in-person events of 2020 where we were able to work with children, prior to the closing of San Francisco public schools due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, thanks to the efforts of students and community at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, we delivered 800 books with handwritten notes of encouragement to the shelter in March.

2020 was a year unlike any other, and we knew that it would be highly unlikely that we would be able to host the book drive as we usually do this year in 2021. We explored alternatives, such as direct purchase and shipment of books, but soon learned from the shelter that there are additional issues of capacity and storage to consider for organizations operating under these challenging present conditions.

¡Vámonos! Let’s Go!

This year: A new challenge for the 2021 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

In searching for a way to best help with pressing needs, we learned that there is a shortage of Spanish language books for children at the shelter. After confirming the shelter’s storage capacity, we are happy to share that we will be able to support the children at Hamilton Families with a Spanish language book drive.

For the Shelter:

  • 0-3y= 20 books
  • 3-5y= 20 books
  • 5-8y=10 books

For Transitional Housing:

  • 0-3y= 20 books
  • 3-5y= 20 books
  • 5-8y=10 books

We seek 49 sponsors who will pledge to donate $5 each towards the purchase Spanish language books for the children at the Hamilton Families.

After pricing the costs for an order of 100 Spanish Language children’s books from First Book, we have come up with this modest, but meaningful goal. While we are unable to work directly with children this year in support of their acts of kindness, we hope to continue supporting these efforts again in the future. We welcome your participation in this year’s Blake Mini Library Book Drive and thank you for sharing your love of reading with the children at Hamilton Families.

For more, visit the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families project page.

A Special Encore Screening: THE ANTIDOTE

In celebration of
WORLD KINDNESS DAY on November 13th,

Please Join Us for a Special Encore Screening of:

The film will be available for viewing over a three-day screening period, from Friday, November 13 at 7:30am ET/4:30am PT through Sunday, November 15, 11:30pm PT.

Please register on Eventbrite to receive the link and password to the private screening room. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/artsed4all-presents-an-encore-screening-of-the-antidote-tickets-128303508247

We hope that you will enjoy sharing this film with friends, family, or any organizations that might be interested the power of kindness, empathy and community. Please feel free to use this invitation HERE.

We also invite you to join ArtsEd4All for a community conversation about sharing SIMPLE GIFTS of creativity and kindness this holiday season on Saturday, November 14th at 4:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm ET.

Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up. Directed by Academy Award-nominee, Kahane Cooperman, and six-time Emmy winner, John Hoffman, THE ANTIDOTE aims to drive a national conversation about the roles that kindness, decency, compassion and respect play in a civilized, democratic society.

ArtsEd4ll presents “THE ANTIDOTE”

ArtsEd4All invites you to join a special screening of THE ANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th, beginning at 3:30pm PST / 6:30pm EST. After the film, please join us for a community conversation about kindness, education and the arts.

Please register on Eventbrite to receive your invitation to the ArtsEd4All screening room. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-antidote-advance-film-screening-conversation-tickets-125760078781

About the Film:

Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up, despite fundamental unkindnesses that exist in our society.

Directed by six-time Emmy Award-winner John Hoffman and Academy Award-nominee Kahane Cooperman, THE ANTIDOTE tells stories of compassionate people intentionally leveraging the resources of their communities to give others a chance at a better life. THE ANTIDOTE isn’t about an idea or a policy; it is about bringing people into a healthy relation with each other, listening to their wants and desires, respecting their boundaries, and treating them with dignity.

“If ever there was a time for inclusivity in education.”

Research links kindness to a wealth of physical and emotional benefits. And it’s an
excellent coping skill for the Covid-19 era. Take a minute to revel in a world brimming
with kindness in #BeTheAntidote theantidotemovie.com

Kindness is contagious.

If you have a friend that you would like to recognize for their acts of kindness, please send them a postcard and invite them to watch #THEANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th at 3:30pm PST.

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.

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

“BREAKING BARRIERS” with Marcus Shelby & Friends

On Monday, January 13, 2020, Dianne Feinstein Elementary School will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (1/20/2020) with a special assembly, “Breaking Barriers” with Marcus Shelby & Friends.

Artists have long used music and images to communicate ideas and emotions, to inspire action and movement towards a more just society. Music is a unifying force that has been used across generations to pass on stories of determination and courage.

Composer/bassist Marcus Shelby says, “I use music to reveal how we got to where we are; to reflect history in the most positive and truthful way.” “Breaking Barriers” will illustrate how unique voices have collectively used “The Blues,” an art form with deep roots in African-American history. Students will hear stories and songs associated with notable historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson, and hear how the strength and bravery of everyday people has helped to shape America’s history.

MARCUS SHELBY is a composer, arranger, band leader, bassist, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives, social movements, and music education. Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and a new resident artist director for the San Francisco Jazz Festival 2019-2020. Shelby leads the SF Community Music Center’s Teen Jazz Orchestra program and is also an artist in residence at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival where he is the music director of the 100 member Freedom Jazz Choir, youth choir, and youth music ensemble. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including Harriet Tubman, Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio, Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues, Green and Blues, and a children’s opera Harriet’s Spirit produced by Opera Parallèle in 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deveare’s off Broadway Play and HBO feature film Notes from the Field and many other productions over the past 21 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013. https://marcusshelby.com/

Learn more about Marcus Shelby on Google Arts & Culture.

RESOURCES for BREAKING BARRIERS

WE SHALL OVERCOME

It was the most powerful song of the 20th century. It started out in church pews and picket lines, inspired one of the greatest freedom movements in U.S. history, and went on to topple governments and bring about reform all over the world. Word for word, the short, simple lyrics of “We Shall Overcome” might be some of the most influential words in the English language.

The song’s first publication gives credit of authorship to, among others, Silphia Horton of the Highlander Folk School, who learned the song from the tobacco workers, and Pete Seeger, who helped to popularize the song and gentrified its title from “We Will Overcome.”

With a 2017 court settlement, the melody and lyrics for We Shall Overcome officially entered into the public domain.

Artist Kadir Nelson illustrates Kwame Alexander’s poem “The Undefeated”

The Library of Congress: Activity Ideas for Song and Poetry http://www.loc.gov/teachers/lyrical/songs/overcome.html

BREAKING BARRIERS: In Life and In Sports

CHILD OF THE DREAM: A MEMOIR OF 1963 by Sharon Robinson

“Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” is a baseball-themed character education program developed by Major League Baseball and Scholastic Inc. Using America’s sport, baseball, as the metaphor for life, the curriculum is based on the values demonstrated by barrier breaker Jackie Robinson: citizenship, commitment, courage, determination, excellence, integrity, justice, persistence and teamwork.

Learning About Barriers http://www.scholastic.com/breakingbarriers/interactive/interactive1.html

THE UNDEFEATED by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

This poem, originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.

Kwame Alexander reads his poem for ESPN. https://theundefeated.com/videos/this-one-is-for-us/

Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) is an American artist who currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. His paintings are in the private and public permanent collections of several notable institutions including The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the International Olympic Committee, and the US House of Representatives. https://www.kadirnelson.com/

Interview with Kadir Nelson on All Things Considered This Is For ‘The Undefeated’

Artist Kadir Nelson illustrates Kwame Alexander’s poem “The Undefeated”

CORETTA SCOTT KING BOOK AWARDS

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Seal was designed by artist Lev Mills in 1974.  Learn more about the history of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and the symbolism in the seal on the American Library Association website.

Designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.  Further, the Award encourages the artistic expression of the black experience via literature and the graphic arts in biographical, social, and historical treatments by African American authors and illustrators.

Fifty years of CSK Book Award titles: http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/awards/24/all_years

YOUTH PHILANTHROPY & SERVICE – BLAKE MINI LIBRARY

DFES students are also invited to assist with the fifth annual BLAKE MINI LIBRARY BOOK DRIVE to benefit homeless children in San Francisco.

Each year from MLK Day through Valentine’s Day, students are invited to help to collect book donations. Students are invited to help create posters and Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the book drive or contribute reviews recommending their favorite books. Students can also support the processing of books by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers.

The 2020 Blake Mini Library Book Drive kicks off on January 20th. This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service celebrating the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy.

#MLKDAY  https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service

This year’s book drive donations, which will include a specially curated selection of titles on the theme of “Breaking Barriers,” will be delivered to the Hamilton Families on Read Across America Day (3/2/2020).

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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