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.

Slow Street Art

Over the years, the ArtsEd4All crew has enjoyed supporting Sunday Streets events. We really get excited about Poetry and All Things Slow, and are always happy to contribute some Cheap Art. Special thanks to Joanie Juster for the connection and to Alec Hawley for the invitation to participate in the Slow Street Art Hunt! The Slow Streets event is also fun lead in to Total SF Movie Night #8 – a virtual screening of Always Be My Maybe, so be sure to grab some popcorn-to-go to enjoy with the film at home.

Ride N’ Roll Slow Street Art Hunt

We are looking forward to the Ride N’ Roll Slow Street Art Hunt on Saturday, February 13 in the Richmond District. The event will start at 1 pm at Green Apple Books with poetry by Mark J. Mitchell and end with Norton the It’s It at the Balboa Theater at 3pm. Come out and support local businesses and participate in an art hunt highlighting artwork and poetry. You will have a great time, come rain or shine!

Slow Art Hunt: A4All Memory Cards

For the Slow Art Hunt, we have created a set of twelve cards that are inspired by the places in the Richmond District that we love.

Each ArtsEd4All notecard features art and poetry that is inspired by the Slow Streets Art movement in the Richmond District. The cards share stories and and things that we have learned as we have explored the neighborhood over the years.

We are really grateful that this event gave us an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful times spent in the Richmond District. We are excited to share some love for our favorite places — Argonne Community Garden, Balboa Theater, C: Landing Arts, California Academy of Sciences, De Young Museum, E.Y. Lee Kung Fu School, Four Star Theatre with pre-film dim sum and post-film noodle houses, Healing Arts Studio, Internet Archive, Japanese Tea Gardens, Land’s End, Mountain Lake, Ocean Beach, Presidio Middle School and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

Look on the back of each card for a QR code that launches to a poetry reading, a song or a film. Scan the QR code with a code reader app or use your iPhone camera to access this special content.

If you find one of our art memory cards inside a pre-stamped envelope on Slow Streets, we hope that you will enjoy the art, poems and our memories of good times in the Richmond District. When you are ready, please use the card to send love and poetry to a friend.

The ArtsEd4All crew of contributors to this project include Andi Wong, Flo Oy Wong, Janice Fong, Judy Toupin, Mara Grimes, Mary Ann Cruz, Norma Diana Rodriguez, Victor Yan, featuring audio contributions by the 4th grade poets at Diane Feinstein Elementary and the Del Sol String Quartet, Brenda Wong Aoki of First Voice, and Blake Ansari and the Open Library readers at the Internet Archive.

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can transform one million realities.” — Maya Angelou

Since 2016, ArtsEd4All has organized an annual book drive for the Blake Mini Library in the Hamilton Families shelter. School children are invited to help fill the rainbow-colored shelves from MLK Day of Service through Valentine’s Day. With our first book drive, we started a tradition of writing and hiding “Notes of Encouragement.” Book donors and children were invited to contribute special surprise messages that were hidden inside the books 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. Over the years, lovely notes of encouragement have been written at special author signings at Green Apple Books.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, space and capacity at the shelter is a concern, and school is not in session, so we will not be able to have the book drive as usual this year. Sharing these Memory Cards on Slow Streets helps us to hold onto this ritual of kindness in a time of change.

However, Hamilton Families confirmed that we can be a great help with a Spanish language children’s book drive for the shelter and Transitional Housing Program. Please get in touch, if you would like to recommend Spanish Language book titles or you are interested in purchasing a book.

Here’s a book that we’d really like to include in this year’s delivery:

Milo imagina el mundo
By MATT DE LA PEÑA
Illustrated by CHRISTIAN ROBINSON

Simple Gifts

In celebration of World Kindness Day, we would like to share some holiday gift ideas, inspired by our ArtsEd4All family.

Our post-screening community conversation on October 24th inspired us to offer another dose of THE ANTIDOTE. This time, we are sharing some new stories and Simple Gifts from our ArtsEd4All family. It is our hope that the film will inspire others to put their own creative ideas into action, or even better – offer your support to someone else who can use a helping hand. Start small and put your whole hands, heart and mind into whatever you choose to do. Thanks for joining us. We wish you love, kindness and creativity this holiday season!

#1: SHARING LOVE, ART & KINDNESS — “YOU ARE LOVED”

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It’s always special to receive a surprise package in the mail. Andi’s day was brightened when she opened the box to find a beautifully radiant painting, “You Are Loved,” from artist Crystal Vielula inside. Crystal’s thoughtful gift of art is especially special and precious to Andi because of the special story behind the painting. If you would enjoy supporting an artist’s campaign of kindness, Crystal is holding a “YOU ARE LOVED” print sale. 100% of the profits will be donated to Black and Queer Groceries, a mutual aid organization that is delivering groceries to black and queer people in need in the Bay Area. Visit Crystal’s website for more info: https://www.crystalvielula.com/you-are-loved-print-pre-sale.html.

#2: KNIT TOGETHER — HELP STANDING ROCK STAY WARM IN WINTER

Winter has arrived, and the weather is turning cold. So when Gail shared that the Auntie Sewing Squad was organizing a Warm Coat and Extreme Cold Gear Drive for Standing Rock and Black Hills, we visited their website to see how to help. ArtsEd4All enjoys a great knitting project, so pull out your circular looms, it’s time to make some woolen beanies! Join the Aunties and help protect our friends at Standing Rock and those living on ancestral homeland in the Black Hills who are facing below zero temperatures this winter. When you are ready to send your items, check the Auntie Sewing Squad website for mailing addresses and visit Native-Land.ca, a website dedicated to helping people across the world learn more about their local Indigenous history. DIY TUTORIAL: How to loom knit a hat (super easy for beginners) https://youtu.be/BonWux0A2yM

#3: REMEMBER TO LOOK UP — WALKING “UNDER ONE SKY”

A trio of friends – Flo, Andi and Mara – first began walking together “Under One Sky” back in July with The 2020 Global Slow Marathon, a global art project launched in Scotland with artist Iman Tajik asking the question, “What is Solidarity?” The Slow Marathon is done, but The Skywalker FAM is still walking, lifting eyes and cameras to the skies with gratitude for each beautiful day of blue. Like the shape-shifting clouds that we observe daily, The Skywalker FAM collective photo album is ever-changing. Some days, a photo appears with a poem or a song, and we always welcome new members into the family. Please send your sky pics to sfgreenandblue@gmail.com.

#4: GO GREEN — “SUCCULENT CITY”

Make your garden grow! One of the most beautiful visions realized during our time at The Studio at Mayeda was giving children a bit of Earth to call their own. With resourcefulness and care, the students were able to establish a small container garden of fruits & vegetables and succulents on the school’s rooftop. Have you ever saved and sprouted the seeds from your apple at lunch? Or tried to propagate succulents from a leaf or a cutting? Growing something of your own easy and fun. With some added research into the native plants in your area, you will get to know your neighbors – the birds, bees, butterflies – as Norma did when she helped to create a pollinator garden for PAWS (Pets Art Wonderful Support). Who knows, as your garden grows, you might even make a new friend who love trees as much as you do!

#5: FEED A NEED — BAKE SOME DOUGH

Whether you are making dough for bread or for art, there are so many wonderful ways to get creative with just a little flour, salt and water, and it’s easy to make a little bit extra to share. Our friends Joanie & Mark know that a good bake can go a long way. While Mark has been treating listeners to readings from Roshi, his new book of poems inspired by San Francisco, Joanie has been making her own kind of music in the kitchen, Their lucky friends have enjoyed the gift of her tasty zucchini loaf, garlic onion foccaccia and a festive holiday assortment of #PoetryAndCookies. Over the years, ArtsEd4All has kept Ruth Asawa’s bakers clay recipe handy, making loads of dough for holiday keepsakes and collaborative art pieces with generations of school children. Resourceful makers in San Francisco go to the Scroungers Center for Re-Usable Art Parts aka SCRAP, the non-profit creative reuse center founded in 1976 by Ruth Asawa & Anna Marie Theilen, two resourceful women who knew how to make their materials go a long way. You can support SCRAP by attending Ruth Asawa: Through the Eyes of Her Children, a virtual conversation about the legacy and impact of the renowned San Francisco-based artist, on November 19, 7-8pm PST. Mention SCRAP when you donate items to the Community Thrift Store in San Francisco, and SCRAP will receive a monetary donation.

#6: WASTE NOT, WANT NOT — SEW A “MAGIC BAG”

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Kamilla, a former student recently reached out, wondering if we might be able to share the instructions for how to sew a “magic bag.” When she was in middle school, Kamilla and her friends all learned how to sew these cloth bags with Ms. Toupin at The Studio at Mayeda, in order to reduce the use of plastic bags at school. Ms. Toupin was thrilled to hear Kamilla’s special request and worked up the instructions for anyone who might enjoy a crafty way to cut down their plastic use. Try making your own to give out as gifts to friends. Instructions for Ms. Toupin’s DIY Magic Bag: https://archive.org/details/ms-toupin-diy-magic-bag/mode/2up

#7: SPREAD JOY — THE DEL SOL STRING QUARTET & THE JOY PROJECT

Music is good medicine that can spread joy, build human connections and bring us out into nature —The Del Sol String Quartet is bringing THE JOY PROJECT, free concerts in public settings around the Bay Area, where people can enjoy the music while safely practicing social distancing in the open air. Del Sol has commissioned a body of very short pieces written to give joy, by composers ranging from classical- music lions to young students and non-classical figures. Legendary composer Terry Riley responded with the rainbow arrow that has become the project logo. Join Del Sol’s “Joy list” for the latest information regarding locations and times to hear Del Sol play.

#8: DO YOUR DANCE — THE “FAM DANCE JAM”

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We all try to do our best to get out an exercise, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up with a fun alternative. When artist/poet Flo Oy Wong turned 82, she told her friends Mara and Andi that she really wanted to celebrate with a dance party. We have such fond memories of celebrating Flo’s 75th Birthday with dancing in the street in 2013. This time, we made Flo a special 2020 Birthday Dance Megamix and set a date on Zoom. We boogied for twenty minutes non-stop and had such a good time that we are already planning the next dance party. This time, Flo can’t wait to invite her family to join the JAM. Celebrate good times with the people who make your heart dance! Work off a bit of that holiday meal and savor a slightly bigger slice of pie with your Sistas!

#7: SING OUT — EQUAL JUSTICE SOCIETY “HARRIET TUBMAN”

Composer/bassist Marcus Shelby uses music to share the history, present, and future of African American lives. “Harriet Tubman: Through the Eyes of Children” honors the 20th year anniversary of the Equal Justice Society, with a musical soundtrack featuring vocalist Tiffany Austin and the Marcus Shelby Quintet. The film, directed by Kevin D. Johnson, Jr., tells the story of how Harriet Tubman has inspired young black girls to use their voices to fight for justice and equality during the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd protests summer of 2020 in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic. Share the gift of music and support the artists whose efforts help wider audiences to understand social justice issues and struggles.

#9: COLOR YOUR WORLD — “THIS ABILITY” MURAL

Steve Porter the artist works big. His mural projects seem to grow exponentially with each new attempt… 48’… 88’… Steve’s newest project is around 145 feet long! Sometimes, Steve lets his imagination run wild, working for days on end, before inviting the public to add the color as they did on One Spring Day.” But while working in the schools in Shreveport, Louisiana, Steve Porter the art teacher set his sights on an even bigger challenge — How to involve all the children who had not previously had the chance to participate? With the support of teachers and paraprofessionals, the children shared their talents when they created the 360′ long This Ability” Mural. Steve says, “I believe that we all have the ability to make a positive difference in a child’s life. When given the opportunity to do something, then do it — advocate for, speak for, and fight for those that are so often overlooked.”

#11: SHARE YOUR STORY — “BLAKE MINI LIBRARY”

In 2016, young Blake Ansari constructed and donated a rainbow-colored mini-library to the students at Rooftop School who, in turn, assembled and donated the library to the Hamilton Families shelter in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. For the past 5 years, ArtsEd4All has hosted the annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive, inviting San Francisco school children to join Blake in his efforts to bring the joy of reading to homeless children. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic will require an alternative approach. This year, please share your love of reading by purchasing a book or two through the ArtsEd4All Bookshop. The Bookshop affiliate program pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores. All ArtsEd4All Bookshop proceeds from MLK Day to Valentine’s Day will be applied to the purchase of a special delivery of books for the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families shelter. Antigone reminds us that we must support our local bookshops and video stores, with her story of kindness, an appreciation of artist Michael McConnell, and Faye’s a tiny, magical local establishment that deserves to stay alive and thrive.

#12: SMILE MORE — “BLUE MIND” & BLUE MARBLE SMILES

“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo di Vinci.

The Blue Marbles Project set out to pass a blue marble through every (yes, every) person’s hand on earth, along with a simple message of gratitude. This slow-motion global art project is a clear reminder that everything we do on this little blue planet matters. Through art, science and technology, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is helping people to better understand the true value of water. “J” collaborates with a dedicated network of Blue Mind ambassadors, including Margaret, who is using her tech expertise to show that a smile really can create a ripple effect of kindness. Blue Mind research shows that nature is therapeutic, promotes general health and well-being, and blue space in both urban and rural settings further enhances and broadens cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical, and spiritual benefits. “This deep biological connection has been shown to trigger an immediate response in our brains when we’re near water. In fact, the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart and induce relaxation. Thanks to science, we’re now able to connect the dots to the full range of emotional benefits being on, in, or near the water can bring.” Our mission is clear: see to it that all people understand, have access to and practice Blue Mind wherever they are, because water is medicine for our bodies and minds. Our waters are a gift that we must work together to protect, as we are reminded after this tragic fire season that has upended so many lives, including that of The Nichols Family.

Do you know someone who would like to help to create a groundswell of support for Blue Mind? You can support J on Patreon, and give the gift of Science. Sign up as a patron at any level, starting at $1/month ($12/year).

ArtsEd4All would also like to express our thanks to The Antidote Team for allowing us to share their beautiful and inspiring film, THE ANTIDOTE with our community.

K    Kindness

I      Integrity

N     Necessary

D     Disseminate 

N      Niceness

E      Everywhere

S     Soothing 

S      Strength

— FLO OY WONG, November 14, 2020

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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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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