Six-year-old Kendall Wildy was there, with her peers, enjoying the books, enjoying the words being orated from inside the books.
And she was brought to the African American Read-In by her father, Nathaniel Broadus, who was just doing to his daughter what his mother did to him.
“As a young person my mother brought me here to the Homewood Library to read, and it’s really important that I’m able to pass those experiences on to my daughter,” Broadus said. “She’s learning to read now, and having those building blocks and being able to see other people getting up and reading” is important for Kendall, Broadus said. But also, “being able to do stuff like this communally is important, for us as Black people, just to be able to get together and do simple things like read as a group, I think it’s important.”
This year’s theme for the 29th annual African American Read-In was Literary Healing: Liberation Through STEAM, “Rising to the Top.” More than 30 people signed up to read portions of books to the young ones. Dozens of youth were able to hear the words from the speakers during the three-hour event, Feb. 3, and some youth read books to the crowd, as well.
“When I hear them I start crying, really,” said Lorena Amos Brock, president of the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh, the sponsor of the event. “And the fact that they’re reading and enjoying it. This (event) is so intergenerational—you’ve got very old people and very young people exchanging this reading that we weren’t able to have a long time ago.”
Brock said it’s the fifteenth time her organization has held this event.
“It’s important for the children of all ages to get a chance to hear what older people read, and for the younger people to share what they’re reading, and how we can combine that intergenerational reading together,” added Cynthia Battle of the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh. “Children don’t like to do what you tell them to do, they do what they see you do. So, if they see you doing things and you see all these wonderful people with stuff to share,” it will leave a more impactful, lasting impression on the kids, Battle said.
Brock looks at the Read-In as not only about books, but about confidence-building in children. “We should always give our children an opportunity, even though they’re nervous, to get up and show their stuff, and then for the adults to say, ‘Aw, wasn’t that wonderful.’”
Broadus is hoping his daughter, Kendall, will continue the family tradition of holding literacy in high regard. “Hopefully it encourages her in her later years to get her peers out here in the library, reading,” he said.
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