During my time in DC for the Children’s Africana Book Award I was honored with an invitation to speak to the Capitol City Public Charter School fourth graders about Africa is My Home by An Open Book Foundation, a fabulous organization that describes themselves thus:
Founded by Dara La Porte and Heidi Powell, An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation was created to promote literacy among disadvantaged children and teens in the greater Washington, D.C. area by giving schools and students book and access to authors and illustrators. We excite children and teachers about reading and send every child home with a signed book.
I was so impressed and moved by the experience. Being a fourth grade teacher myself, it was delightful to speak about my book to a different group and population from my own students. As I wrote in my earlier post about the weekend:
It was a really wonderful experience. The children were eager, interested, and had wonderful questions. I was most moved by two children from El Salvador. I sign my books “Never forget your home” and one of these two children spoke with tremendous excitement of returning soon to her home of El Salvador while the other came around to tell me privately that he would not be returning to his home of El Salvador because “bad things had happened there.” I told him that his home should be wherever he felt safe and happy. It was an important reminder to me — someone who has, for different reasons, no childhood place to call home — that home is not necessarily where you originated.
I enjoyed too meeting and working with Janet Zwick of An Open Book Foundation who guided the children to read and discuss the book during my visit and generally (along with another wonderful person from the foundation and the school’s librarian) saw that the whole event went off without a hitch. (Even the fire drill didn’t cause a problem, believe it or not!) . Afterwards Janet treated me to a tasty pho lunch with some really wonderful conversation. Here are photos Janet took of the event. My great thanks to everyone involved in making this a special event for me. (The photos are courtesy of An Open Book Foundation.)