Paul Sweeney once wrote: “You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and you kinda feel like you’ve lost a friend. “
On that note, the Naval and Historical Museum of Vallejo, along with many partners, have done their best to help many children find new friends.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the museum hosted a book festival, which included both live and streaming events.
Free children’s books were distributed by the nonprofit Another Chapter and the Solano County Library, while Books’ N Blankies distributed free arts and crafts. The live stream was readings by Karen Finlay of the Alibi Bookstore as well as the On the Fringe Theater Company and the Vallejo Fire Department to name a few.
The Vallejo Peace Project, the University of Touro and the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation also contributed.
“Overall it has been a positive experience,” said Christi Nguyen, Volunteer with Books’ N Blankies. “I love to see the faces of the youngest when they receive their books. They are all, ‘Really ?! Are you sure it’s free? ‘ As a student myself, it is nice to know that I am helping to promote preschool education.
Nancy Kidder, the owner of Another Chapter, was also happy to help out and give free books to the children.
“I like to share the pleasure of reading,” Kidder said. “We were all talking about how reading brings everyone together in a community. You find things in common with others. The kids are coming today to get their free books and are very excited. I just want to make sure I have plenty of miscellaneous books available.
Debra Day of Ashay by the Bay, African American and Multi-Cultural Children’s Books, also said that it is very important to have a varied amount of books for children.
There were many books available, including those in the Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, as well as Black Panther, the National Geographic Weird Goal True series, as well as a few books by former NBA superstar Shaquille O. ‘Neal.
“I think today we did a really good job bringing books that represent them and what they’re going through,” Day said. “We want a variety of books on the culture they’re in. We have a lot about social justice because it’s great to have this conversation early in their life. We want to make a difference and help children increase their education.
Upstairs, inside the museum, there were about a dozen book readings streamed throughout the day. On the Fringe Theater Company, the performers not only said lines from the books, but also sang and performed the roles.
Finlay, who co-owns the Alibi bookstore down the street on Marin, read “Oh the Thinks you can Think!” by Dr Seuss as well as “I Believe in You” by Sabrina Moyle.
“We were broadcasting live on Facebook so there weren’t a lot of people in the audience but I was able to read to a little girl,” Finlay said. “It’s really fantastic and something that I missed so much. Story time was so fun and it’s so important to read it to kids. But you have to find out what the kid likes, what he likes before recommending a book to him.
Jim Kern, the museum director, was happy to return to the event for the second time and the first since March 2020.
“There has been a constant number of people coming today, many from the nearby farmers market,” Kern said. “This event was the last thing we did in March 2020 before the pandemic started. This time around, although we have a lot of inflatables and astro-botanical gear, a lot of hands-on activities that we didn’t do this year because we didn’t feel comfortable with the growth of COVID again. So we made crafts for the kids to take home and released a lot of things to watch around the house.
“We’ve been storytelling a lot, but the main reason for this whole event is to put books in the hands of children,” Kern continued. “We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with Another Chapter, the Solano County Library, Books’ N Blankies and Alibi and it’s just having a ripple effect. We are just a stone in the pond for this event.