A Gallery of Outstanding Mini-Grant Programs
After the Mini-Grants are awarded and the projects completed, recipients send us their Final Report, chronicling their program’s development, presentation and community response. The photographs, clippings, DVDs and other documentation we receive tell a story of enthusiasm and success. The most impressive reports we send on to the Keats Archive, to be preserved along with Ezra’s artwork. Then, sometimes, a report will positively blow us away! Below, a selection of programs we found to be original, creative, often informative, and just as often, a pure delight.
Mary Blieka, Children’s Librarian
Queens Library, South Hollis Branch
St. Albans, New York
A librarian’s desire to develop a community arts program for special-needs children led to an ocean-themed adventure for a group of middle-schoolers with Asperger’s, high-functioning autism and ADHD. Their enthusiasm grew as their artwork was put on display, and their interest fueled further participation and reading. This cooperative program encourages children to exceed expectations.
Michelle Myler, Extended Learning Coordinator
Concord School District
Concord, New Hampshire
How do you make young recent immigrants feel a part of a new and alien community? By bringing the community to them! The Concord, New Hampshire, school district paired 12 English learners, age 6 to 12, with a team of teachers and volunteers for an immersive, creative program of field trips, art projects and conversation. Home-town studies are a useful idea that can generate Mini-Grant programs as different as the people and places that inspired them.
Jenn Carter, 21st Century Program Director
Lewiston Middle School
How does an old New England city look to its newest inhabitants? Middle-school students in the 21st Century Program decided to find out. The city is home to families from many countries, and the school population includes Somalis, Eritreans and Kenyans as well as native Down Easters. So, for a summer book-making project, a group of students created a picture book about the sights, sounds and foods of their city.
Karen Bell, Media Specialist
The Library at the Ruby C. Hunt YMCA
Shelby, North Carolina
This library hit on a great way to promote reading, with benefits: launching a StoryWalk series along the YMCA’s fitness trail. Combining children’s books, families and fitness in a single program gave a welcome boost to library use, family activities and community events. Planning began immediately for future programs.
Elizabeth Thompson, Library Director
Gorham Public Library
Gorham, New Hampshire
In a program originally planned for pre-schoolers, the library of this small, rural community held a series of art classes based on Keats books. The idea was to establish the connection between books, art and children’s lives. And that was only the beginning.
Irena Just, Children’s Librarian
Herrin City Library
What happens when a city library joins forces with an elementary school, a university, an architectural firm, public television and a food festival? A Mini-Grant program that can spread its benefits throughout the community, but begins and ends with the children.
Nettie Moore, Youth Specialist
M.R. Davis Public Library
Beaver Lake Education Center
A year-long program of Art Nights and Builder’s Nights at the M.R. Davis Library produced a rewarding dividend: the friendships that developed between children with autism and children without. The program, based on the books of Ezra Jack Keats, reached out to children with autism and brought an outpouring of volunteers, including art teachers, special education teachers, Art Council members, teens and grandparents. Although there was much to overcome in the way of confidence and social skills, everyone was willing to listen and learn about one another.
Ruth Paisley, Supervisor
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)
Beaver Lake Education Center
How do you get preschoolers with special needs ready for reading? At Beaver Lake Education Center, you work in teams, supporting the children with art-making, family participation, literacy activities and a take-home book, among other teaching tools. First, you start with a book—such as the Keats-illustrated poem Over in the Meadow.
Steven Flanagan, Teacher
Sunnyside Elementary School
San Francisco, California
In Peter’s Chair, by Ezra Jack Keats, a boy helps paint his old chair for his baby sister. At Sunnyside Elementary School, chair-painting is a community affair. It took teachers, students, families and neighbors working together to turn forgotten cast-offs into works of art. What’s more, pieces were selected by a major San Francisco museum for its annual student arts festival! This school-wide project was a celebration of reading, art, creativity and collaboration.
Jennifer Smith, Teacher
Carlin Springs Elementary School
Ever wonder what happens to the characters after a book ends? These fourth-graders know the answer: a sequel! An author study of Ezra Jack Keats inspired eight stories of Peter, friends and family, with titles such as The Leafy Day, The Beachy Day and Peter’s Thanksgiving. But it’s the gorgeous illustrations of patterned-paper collage that best show the creative imagination at work.
Kate Terney, Teacher
Brock Road Elementary School
The challenge was to integrate state requirements for language arts, math and science into the third-grade curriculum. The solution: Create a multi-subject learning experience anchored by The Snowy Day! The result was a perfect example of how enriching a collaborative program can be.
Helen Geglio, Teacher
McKinley Primary Center
South Bend, Indiana
What is a community? This was the question that third-graders in Indiana considered as they worked on an interdisciplinary class project based on Peruvian arpilleras, cloth scenes of everyday life embellished with small, three-dimensional details. Each of three classes collaborated on a large mural, and the three murals are displayed in the school library.
Cole Zrostlik, Youth Services Librarian
St. Croix Falls Public Library
St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin
Inspired by a comic-making class and a pancake recipe, staffers at the St. Croix Falls Library cooked up the Comic and Graphic Cookbook Collaborative Art Show. The library asked for submissions of artwork that would “tell the story” of favorite recipes, and offered art classes to encourage people to sign up regardless of ability. Participants ranged from pre-schoolers to seniors, all collaborating on a unique art event.
Stanley Steele, Principal
Pocantico Hills School
Sleepy Hollow, New York
A 12-inch snowfall inspired the first-graders in Westchester County, New York, to create their own version of The Snowy Day. Each student contributed a sentence and a drawing, presented as a slideshow on the school website. Since then every first-grade class has added a snow-themed contribution.
Jill Waltz, Teacher
Geeter Middle School
The Geeter Middle School packed a lot of culture into its Black History program, with students adapting African and African-American folktales into shadow plays and performing them with puppets and sets they created themselves.
Susan Gerhart, YA Librarian
Calcasieu Parish Public Library
Summer Teen Reading Program
Lake Charles, Louisiana
How do some teens spend the summer? At the Central Library in Lake Charles, they publish oral histories, including interviews and old photographs, of family and community members. The result is a vivid picture of 20th-century life in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
Robert Devich, Principal
Pacific Rim Elementary School
Pacific Rim Elementary won’t forget the fifth-grade class and their K-2 “little buddies,” thanks to the large-scale mosaic they made for the school, based on the book Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister.
Bonnie Reeves, Children’s Librarian
Township Library of Lower Southampton
Call them modern American folk art, inspired by artist Red Grooms—or just “whirligigs.” These one-of-a-kind, wooden kinetic sculptures were made by students, ages 8 to 16, in a workshop organized by the Feasterville, Pennsylvania, library and displayed in a month-long show.
Dr. Meredith St. Clair, Program Administrator
Boise Public Schools
Inspired by Ezra Jack Keats illustrations, street graffiti and Japanese haiku, boys and girls at the Juvenile Detention Center in Boise, Idaho, used all these elements to create deeply personal cityscapes. During the art project, the students pronounced Keats one of the first graffiti writers.