The Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library last year re-booted its effort to connect Library programs and services to underrepresented Takoma Park neighbors. Among our projects: Development of a book discussion club for Piney Branch Elementary School (PBES) students and their parents who have recently moved to the United States. After many weeks of planning the first — of what we hope will be more-to-come — book club discussions took place the evening of Sunday, November 19th, in our Library’s Children’s Reading Room.

With the guidance of our planning team, we selected, So You Want to Be President? as the first book for a group with a wide range of English reading ability among kids and parents alike. The picture book comically spins stories based on the personality traits and lives of America’s first forty-two presidents. The book was written by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small, who won the 2001 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in the book. It is available for checkout from our Library’s stacks.

We intentionally kept the group small — eight kids from 3rd through 5th grades and their parents. The warm discussion quickly took on an energy of its own, aided by donated lemonade and treats. The evening closed with the kids pleading to vote on a book for the next meeting!

Thanks to patrons of the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library book sales and Friends supporters for permitting us to purchase a book for each family to keep and read together in the weeks leading up to the meeting. Thanks for the leadership of Ellen Arnold-Robbins, library director, and Karen McPherson, children and youth librarian. Thanks to Rachna Rikhye and her PBES ESOL team for their guidance. Thanks to the PBES PTA for its support. And BIG thanks to community volunteer and former school librarian Tina Hudak for her vision and energy to plan the wonderful event, facilitate the discussion, and foster an enthusiasm for reading among our young, immigrant neighbors.

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