On Saturday, December 11, the South Jamaica Reads Initiative (SJQ) spread a whole lot of cheer, along with the joy of reading at the annual Holidays on the Avenue festival in South Jamaica, Queens. This tradition, started by Cultural Collaborative Jamaica (CCJ) in 1995, was back by popular demand with well over 350 children in attendance outside the King Manor Museum. In addition to storytime, families enjoyed free workshops, arts and crafts, music, photos with Santa, and yes, gifts!
The SJQ Reads Initiative gave away over 100 books and hosted read alouds with their partners Jumpstart and the Queens library. Stories and songs were inspired by LINC’s animal of the month, D.E.E.R. (Drop Everything Enjoy Reading) and staff were delighted to see a graduate of LINC’s Very Involved Parent (VIP) academy, Cemal Williams, under Santa Claus’ beard. Cemal, a former PS48Q parent, now has a seven month old daughter and remains committed to literacy advocacy in South Jamaica.
After last year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, Reads staff and families were extra excited to reunite with their neighbors, community partners and treasured collaborators. Organizations like the Friends of Rufus Park, Project Hope, and the Cultural Collaborative Jamaica (CCJ) also joined in on the fun! The Edge School of the Arts, a CCJ member, performed a merry rendition of March of the Wooden Soldiers for families to enjoy.
On the same day, the CCJ teamed up with The Jamaica Business Improvement District (BID) to host a number of activities to re-engage neighbors and support the local economy. Aptly called “Tis the Season,” the second event in Downtown Jamaica was replete with free outdoor entertainment, hot chocolate and, our favorite part, an opportunity to take the Reads Pledge and become part of the official NYC Reads movement. By taking the Reads Pledge, community members agree to giving active literacy support to the families in East New York, East Harlem and South Jamaica.
‘Tis the Season concluded with a tree lighting ceremony in Rufus King Park and the best gift of all, an increased commitment to the success of the children who live in these communities.
For more information on the NYC Reads Initiatives in East Harlem, East New York, and South Jamaica, please contact Gilberto Agosto, Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-620-6452, ext. 110.