In honor of National Reading Month, Children’s Aid is celebrating the most critical time for children to develop strong reading and literacy skills: early childhood. Children’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict their third-grade reading achievement.
We have teamed up with prominent, award-winning children’s authors for our annual “Reading on the Rug” series throughout March. Nine authors will read their original works to the 3-to-5-year-olds in our early childhood classes to celebrate the importance of story time and reading to children regularly. Chosen books will also explore identity, diversity, and community—themes that will create strong foundations for our little ones’ ever-growing intellectual curiosity and help cement their love of reading early.
Though we usually host these authors at our children’s centers throughout New York City, this year will look a little different. Each author will join our classrooms through Zoom, where children who are doing both in-person learning and remote learning can be immersed in the story.
We’ve listed the authors and their works below, and we will be posting pictures of the readings throughout March. You can also join us at home by following our “Reading on the Rug” series on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Show us what you’re reading with your young ones: post pictures or video of story time and tag us @childrensaidnyc #ReadingOnTheRug.
We look forward to reading on the rug with you!
Kianny Antigua specializes in writing bilingual children’s literature based on her experiences as a young Dominican that migrated to the United States at the age of 17. Faced with all the barriers such a transition entailed, she made the decision to go to school and get an education so she could pursue her life goals: writing and teaching. Today, she is a Senior Lecturer of Spanish at Dartmouth College and she has published more than 30 books for children and adults.
Carly Gledhill is a children’s book author and illustrator and a surface pattern designer living and working in Stockport, U.K.
Jessica Love is an actor and artist with a degree in Fine Art from UC Santa Cruz and a degree in Drama from The Juilliard School. Jessica's first book, Julián is a Mermaid, was published in 2018 and was the recipient of the Stonewall Book Award. Jessica lives with her sweetheart in upstate New York.
Erin McGill received a BFA in illustration at Pratt Institute, where she discovered her love of patterns, textiles, and collage. She is the recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats Memorial Fellowship. She is the author-illustrator of I Do Not Like Al’s Hat, I Do Not Like That Name, Matchy Matchy, and If You Want a Friend in Washington. She lives in New York City with her husband and dog.
Misa Saburi is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who was born in the Hudson Valley and raised in Tokyo. She has her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in Boston (SMFA). She creates her work both traditionally, on paper with ink and watercolor, as well as digitally in Photoshop. She is the illustrator of seven picture books and three-chapter books, including Cats are a Liquid, which received a starred review from BCCB; and Natsumi's Song of Summer, which received a starred review from Kirkus.
Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer and poet with more than 30 books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration (2010) for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem My People; and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award (2008) for his biography on Muhammad Ali, Twelve Rounds to Glory. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Marissa Valdez is a Latinx author–illustrator who grew up on the South Texas border dreaming that one day she could draw for a living. She moved to Boston where she received a BFA in Fine Arts, and then came back to Texas where she lives with her two extremely vocal cats. She loves to illustrate stories that are overflowing with humor, wit, and totally out-there situations. And if there’s a tough girl main character, that’s a huge plus! Ambitious Girl (Little Brown, 2021) is her debut picture book as illustrator.
Susan Verde grew up in the heart of Greenwich Village in New York City. Now, a New York Times bestselling author, Susan is capturing and celebrating the unique experience of children. Her instant #1 New York Times bestseller, I Am Human: A Book of Empathy, is part of a bestselling series. Susan’s books continue to inspire children, educators, yoga practitioners and mindful humans alike, helping to cultivate empathy and kindness in all of us. In addition to writing, Susan teaches yoga and mindfulness to kids of all ages.
Katie Yamasaki is a muralist and children’s book artist. She has traveled widely, painting more than 80 murals with diverse communities around the world that explore local issues of social justice. Her children’s book work focuses on similar themes of social justice and stories from underrepresented communities. Her most recent book, Dad Bakes, will be released in the fall of 2021, and tells the story of a father and daughter reconnecting after a separation caused by the father’s incarceration. Yamasaki earned her BA from Earlham College and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC, where she served on the faculty for several years. Yamasaki lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Abdul-Razak Zachariah grew up in West Haven, Connecticut, and is a children's book writer and youth worker now based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale University in 2017, where he was deeply involved in diversity and inclusion advocacy. There he received the Mellon Mays Research Fellowship and the Nakanishi Prize. Abdul's first book, The Night is Yours, was released in July 2019 by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The story is based on the apartment complex and community where he grew up in West Haven. He is a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, pursuing a Master's of Education (EdM) in Prevention Science and Practice.