Literacy, Inc. joins the world in mourning the loss of Tomie dePaola, who brought joy to generations of children with his stories and illustrations. Together with a coalition of education equity nonprofit and library partners, we are coordinating #TheTomieLessons, a weeklong program to honor his impact and legacy. #TheTomieLessons will be launched today, April 3 (https://www.lincnyc.org) and will feature short videos, storytelling, and live read-alouds of Tomie dePaola’s masterworks.
We urge readers to share their own memories of Tomie dePaola on this platform. Tomie influenced people around the world through the production of 271 books as either author or illustrator, an astonishing 141 of which he was both writer and artist.
LINC was fortunate to connect with this gifted man through his engagement in our public awareness campaign #CitysFirstReaders "www.ReadtheCity.org". He created artwork that was featured on posters placed in bus shelters and subway stations, urging parents to engage with their little ones, pointing to and naming everyday objects creating teachable moments.
Tomie was our advocate. He understood the importance of our mission and our community literacy model. In the words of his Literary Agent, Doug Whiteman, "Tomie dePaola believed that reading to children, so that they would be exposed to wonderful stories and pictures and would learn to love books, was one of the most important things a new parent could do. When he became aware of LINC’s programs through his friend Phyllis Grann, who asked him to illustrate her book I WILL TALK TO YOU, LITTLE ONE, he immediately embraced and championed the work that LINC is doing. I know how very proud he was to be honored by LINC at their annual gala in 2019."
Tomie dePaola, wearing his signature neck scarf, joined LINC last May as an honoree for our annual spring fundraising gala. After an enthusiastic introduction by best-selling children’s author, Jacqueline Woodson, guests were treated to a lively interview and humorous banter between Tomie and his long-time colleague, Lin Oliver, Executive Director of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In a sequence of rapid-fire questions, we learned about his favorites: color (white because everything looks good with it), food (popcorn) and, above all, we learned that he loved to make people smile. No wonder he signed his name with a heart.
We are so grateful to the many individuals, including Lin, Phyllis, Jacqueline, and Doug, who supported LINC’s partnership with this beloved icon of children’s literature. LINC will be sharing Tomie’s books with our families for many years to come.
These recent weeks have reminded us that sudden crises require preparation. Quality education is at the very core of our preparation, and literacy is at the very core of all learning. We cannot allow today’s educational disruptions to affect tomorrow’s need for solutions. Now more than ever children living in poverty are at risk and need the comfort, joy, and adventures that reading brings. LINC will honor Tomie by putting books in the hands of children and spreading a love of reading for generations to come.