Like Mora, I embraced a more-is-more philosophy when envisioning her visit. To create a rich and layered experience for my school community, I hosted a Book Fair, two Author Assemblies, and Family Story & Art Night on the same day. It was a cat-herding circus. Here’s why I did it, and why I’ll do it again.
- Representation matters. Staff and families were enthusiastic about a young, Black woman showing her incredible story-painting talents. Thank You, Omu! incorporates her grandmother’s Nigerian culture and the kind of city community we all treasure. It was a window and mirror for us all.
- Collaborating with and empowering colleagues. The art teacher and I both love working with collage illustrations. The Story & Art Night gave her a chance to showcase her talents to the community. She fostered student collaboration in art class as children created the raw materials for collage, and demonstrated her teaching chops while leading families in art-making at the evening event.
- Gratitude! During November and December, in particular, we want students to think about how they can show gratitude and kindness. Omu and her neighbors were great models for acts of generosity and love.
- Selecting a debut author was a win-win for us and Oge. Her book Thank You, Omu! sold out - over 30 copies - in the first day of the fair. We have never sold that many hardcover books, especially from a debut author! In addition, it helped her seal a relationship with Porter Square Books for future sales and events.
- Hosting an evening event during the Book Fair was vital to fundraising success. Many families can’t come to the fair before or after school, but when we hold it during a dinner event, we can’t ring up purchases fast enough! I am lucky to have a parent book fair chair who was willing to take it on. Plus, we could point to Oge’s author visit fee as the direct result of our fundraising efforts, making our purpose tangible.