Bananas of the World, Unite!

In our third installment of our summer internship series we are treated to cross-continental stories from Adam Stanaland! Adam attends Davidson College and shares his passion for reading with children at a local after-school program. He was raised in the small fishing village of Little River, South Carolina and is doing his best to convert the LitWorld team into sweet tea drinkers. Read on to hear more about Adam's LitWorld experience.

A Google search just informed me that Nairobi is about 7,354 miles from New York City. Since even the A train can’t take us that eastward, we turned to the magic of Skype to share our Monday morning with the Red Rose School in Kibera, Kenya. At 9am, we logged on to be greeted by a group of about 30 curious third graders. After introductions, questions, and a lot of giggling, we were able to read each other some of our favorite stories. As you can see from Will, Rachael, and Katya’s neck-craning, the kids entranced us with their beautiful reading of “The Emperor’s New Clothes."

After some more getting-to-know you questions, we all decided that it would be fun to share one more song together before goodbyes. We picked one of our favorites to teach them: the Banana Song. (If you don’t know it, you’re seriously missing out.) Just as we had briefly run through the instructions, the kids began singing without any hesitation, “Bananas of the world, unite!” We still aren’t sure if they already knew the song, or if they are just so musically advanced that they picked it up after one go, but both rooms overflowed with laughter at the final “GO BANANAS!”

Later that week after hours of grueling work (evidenced below in the image of smiling/goofy faces, cookies, and coffee), we got to hang out with more kids at the Polo Grounds Community Center. On Wednesday, we headed to Harlem for a LitFest, which was a stellar event of awesome activities, great food, and of course, books, coordinated by the staff and the Research & Development interns, Melissa and Isabelle.

Before the festivities began, Ashley and I were ready to hand out free books, Rachael had her materials to help kids create their own stories, Melissa printed her acrostic poetry writing sheets, while Eve (pictured below) got artsy for the face-painting station. In no time at all, the afternoon air was filled with laughter, smells of summer food, “Mom look at my pinwheel!” and, “Do you have any fairy books?"

Just as our Skype call with the Kibera LitClub girls and boys had to end, the families at the LitFest eventually had to go home. But they did not leave empty-handed: in boxes, bags, and armfuls, they excitedly carried home their newest literary adventures. I was particularly happy to see one kid take home my favorite, "Once Upon a Banana."

In these moments with the Kibera LitClub and at LitFest, I came to realize the importance of literacy in childhood. Even though we were from different cities, different countries, or even different continents, the Kibera students, Harlem children and each of us have this in common: we all go bananas for books.