By Josephine Yi, School & Community Programs Intern
Last week, we made some exciting virtual visits to elementary schools in Dallas and Fort Worth for our Reading Rock Stars program. Students got to meet authors and illustrators: Kelly Starling Lyons, Cozbi Cabrera, Monica Brown, Sili Recio, Don Tate, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, and Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey. These storytellers shared their personal narratives and valuable advice for our future authors and illustrators.
Kelly Starling Lyons (author of Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon) described her experience growing up as a young girl reading books: “Reading was like dreaming… I liked books about everything: fairies, astronauts, folktales, fables. But I realized what I was missing in these books was myself.” She reminded our Reading Rock Stars that their voices matter and prompted them to work hard, use their imagination, and have faith in themselves. Don Tate (author and illustrator of William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad) walked us through how he illustrated his own books and let us in on his writing process. His books celebrate many different black historical figures and he shared the secret to becoming a great illustrator- practice! Don encouraged our Reading Rock Stars by saying “use your special language, it’s the personality you leave on each page.” Cozbi Cabrera (author and illustrator of Me and Mama) began her conversation with our Reading Rock Stars by asking them to join her in singing Good Morning to You and engaged them in an interactive read-aloud. Her mindful communication with students acknowledged their curiosity and agency.
Thank you to all of our authors and illustrators in Dallas and Fort Worth for speaking to the importance of remembering, honoring, and uplifting our communities, the heroes in our own personal lives, and the ones who have fought for racial equity throughout history. This Black History Month, one way we can honor black achievement is by exploring the virtual exhibits currently on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture! You can also join the celebration by sharing these activity choice boards with kids in your community.
We also want to say thank you to librarians at our six participating schools. We see your hard work and feel proud to be part of your team. Can’t wait to be back on your campus next year! Thank you to all our generous sponsors, including H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Texas Cultural Trust, The Miles Foundation, Thomas M., Helen McKee & John P. Ryan Foundation, and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation.