February Message from Deb
January 31, 2017
I needed the Children's Book Fest
I write this as I return from PIC’s Children’s Book Festival, an annual event that was re-envisioned and led by our Diversity Committee.
What a wonderful event! What a needed event!
As our country faces such frightening and frustrating divisiveness, bringing together our PIC community and our West Philadelphia neighbors can continue to create and strengthen the bonds we have with each other.
Our goal at PIC has never been to create a “color blind” community and in fact, it has been just the opposite. Our hope is that we value the differences among us and celebrate those differences. And by doing so, the similarities that we all share become easier to see.
Books are a wonderful way to begin the work of children understanding and appreciating differences. Through good children’s books, they can see themselves through “mirrors,” as the book characters and settings reflect who they are. Books also create “windows” for children, and allow them to see a wider world, one that may be very different than their own. While books are stories to be enjoyed, they can also be powerful tools of social justice.
At Sunday’s Book Festival, over 100 parents and children gathered at PIC to hear guest readers read an array of books that featured diverse families and diverse settings. We listened to PIC dads play music and sing favorite songs. We participated in crafts led by our friends at University City Arts League. We also had a wonderful book swap that allowed all the children attending to take several books home with them (with plenty more going to our Playgroup families this week.)
I loved watching the children carefully make their selections. One Mom shared that her 1st grader was specifically looking for “non-fiction” books, and another told me her two-year-old was “over the top” when he found several books that featured trucks. I watched a dad translating a book into Arabic as he read to his child, and a 5-year-old reading a book to his brother in Spanish. I watched older children reading to their younger siblings and family members taking turns reading to one another.
I am delighted with the success of this event and the spotlight it shines on the importance of reading with young children. What moved me more however was a bigger message. One that illustrated the strong value of a diverse community, especially in today’s world.
I am proud to be part of a community that welcomes, accepts, and celebrates all! I am proud to be a part of the community at PIC.
“It is time to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
— Maya Angelou