If you’ve visited the New Haven Reads blog or social media recently, you likely noticed the Take a Trip with New Haven Reads project. From February 15th to February 19th, New Haven Reads uploaded a daily video of a staff member reading books and poems written by BIPOC authors. These videos ranged from Aimee Curtis-Travaglini, the Site Director at Bristol Street, reading I Ask My Mother to Sing by Li-Young Lee, to Science Park Site Director Audra Clark reading The Turtle with an Afro by Carlotta Penn.
Eimanuelle (Emma) Pendon, the Assistant Site Director at Dixwell, led this project, seeking to keep our kids engaged over the February break while also highlighting diverse authors.
While planning the readings, she focused on her own background, asking, “What would I have wanted to hear when I was a student growing up? What would have made me feel represented and respected?”
All too often, authors of color are not given the same platform or opportunities as white authors, and Emma continued to notice this throughout her life, first as a child and now as an Assistant Site Director. Emma wanted to place an emphasis on what our students look like at New Haven Reads, ensuring that our kids are being exposed to books written by authors that look like them, with characters they can relate to and empathize with.
“I curated a selection of works that featured BIPOC authors, authors who are not always highlighted or recognized in the way that they should be,” Emma explained. “Really, I just wanted what I am doing to be good for the community and for the kids.”
In the end, she couldn’t have been happier with the results. Five New Haven Reads staff members read the books aloud, and these videos have been uploaded to YouTube for anyone to view. We encourage all of our New Haven Reads parents to show these videos to their children, and parents can specifically choose a video of the staff members who their child knows from their tutoring sessions!