a message of hope & resilience

“When we unite, we remember we are equal. We unite through our dreams. Unity is the key to our success. Changing worlds, changing people.” – the beautiful mural at the Polo Grounds Housing Project, Harlem


sweet ayliana

As the library at Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem unfolds, I am realizing more and more how creating a library is not only creating a culture of reading, but it is also creating a culture of love, trust and deep support.  Each day, I enlist the help of the children of the community.  They come in small groups, or on their own, and help me sort through new books, group them into sets, label them and set them on the shelves of their emerging community library.  They own the process of creating their own reading environment, they respect it, they love it.  All the while, while labeling and sorting, the children share their lives with me and I treasure this time so greatly – the thoughts and insights of children – what could be more wise or pure?  Ayliana, my sweet friend pictured below, stayed with me for an hour and a half yesterday, diligently working, happily sharing, sitting with me, side by side.  As we worked, we shared our dreams with one another.  We talked about things that make us happy, things that inspire us, our hopes and sometimes our fears.  I learned she is a fabulous dancer, she loves her family, she is an amazing artist, she prefers love to shouting.  We became great friends in the ninety minutes we spent together and realized how many things we have in common.  Regardless of age, our dreams and interests are the same.  Not only did Ayliana help to prepare her own community library, she also helped remind me once more the importance of listening to a child, of being a friend.

The exciting work unfolding at the Polo Grounds is a collaboration with the amazing organization, LitWorld: www.litworld.org


Remsy

Yesterday, while working on the LitWorld Initiative (www.litworld.org) to set up a community library for the  Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, I had the great pleasure of having some great help from Remsy.  He had volunteered to come down from his after-school class and help me prepare new books.  He was the only one that wanted to come and help and I was so lucky that it was he who wanted to be there with me.  Quiet at first, and serious about doing his work, he quickly warmed up to me and my quirky comments on everything about life.  I considered myself so very lucky to not only have much needed help in preparing the books, but also to have the opportunity to get to know this child and have him share his life with me.  I asked Remsy for his opinion on our book order selection for adolescents.  Did he think other boys would like to read books about sports, mysteries or scary stories?  Did he think that it was a good idea to have books in Spanish at our library?  What kinds of books did he most like to read?  Why?  He told me he loves to write stories; he likes writing the stories about his own life.  I told him I would love to read them. Over the course of an hour, Remsy shared his thoughts and ideas with me and worked very hard to help me.  He took the time to be with me and he reminded me again and again of the importance in spending one-on-one time with a child, letting them know that their thoughts are important, that they themselves are important.


Friends & Books

The children at the Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, New York, begin to immerse themselves in the endless joy of a good book.  We are helping LitWorld set up a little library for this community.  Its been an empowering experience for all. This photo represents why we do what we do, why we fight for all children (and adults) to have access to books and education.  This photo represents the sheer excitement, and the deep bonding effect, which can come from the simple act of reading.

For more information on the wonderful organization, LitWorld, please visit their website: www.litworld.org


Harlem Polo Grounds Community Center Library

Working together with the wonderful non-profit organization, LitWorld, we are setting up a little library at the Harlem Polo Grounds Community Center.  Sharing to Learn and LitWorld share the belief that all children, in all corners of the globe, deserve access to books and a quality education.  By establishing libraries, we are bringing books to communities that might not otherwise have access.

An important piece of setting up a library involves community involvement.  We like to have as many people come on board to help us with the set up as possible.  This week, the children at the community center enthusiastically helped us sort through books and label them.  Thanks to our eager helpers, we are one step closer to completing our library!

Girls from the LitWorld Girls Club were also busy helping us label chapter books!


The beginnings of grouping books into text-sets for the Polo Grounds Community Library, Harlem, NYC


Polo Grounds Community Library, Harlem, NY

Sharing to Learn has been collaborating with the wonderful NY-based non-profit organization, LitWorld, to establish a community library at the Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, New York.  As I was busy sorting through their current collection of books, five year old Rafael proudly held up his favorite book, the Clifford story that I read to him just a few days prior.  “My favorite story is the Clifford story with leaves,” he said.  A bit later, as I was busy organizing books in the back of the room, he crept up to me and sweetly said, “I love all the books you have in here.  Its like my dream coming alive.  This is like a library dream coming to life.”