On Saturday, December 10, 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 story time, families enjoyed free workshops, arts and crafts, music, photos with Santa, and yes, gifts!
The SJQ Reads Initiative gave away tons of books alongside 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 one of LINC’s Very Involved Parents(VIP), Cemal Williams, under Santa Claus’s beard. Cemal, a former PS48Q parent, now has a seven month old daughter and remains committed to literacy advocacy in South Jamaica.
Reads staff and families were extra excited to listen to a special read-aloud by Tami Charles, who read her classic story All Because You Matter. Tami told the many children in attendance about her experience as a parent seeing her son struggle with feeling seen and cared for as a young black boy, and her decision to write All Because You Matter to remind her son and the many children like him how deeply loved, cared for, and special each of them are. In fact, her son came to celebrate the holidays and listen to his mother's story with us! Each family went home with a copy of All Because You Matter, which they had a chance to get signed by Tami.
Perhaps the biggest gift of all was that many parents took the Reads Pledge and became 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.
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.