Reflecting on our World of Stories Gala on May 8th, 2019!
LitWorld Honors Acclaimed Storyteller Jacqueline Woodson
LitWorld held its 10th annual spring Gala on Wednesday, May 8th, to support its global mission of strengthening kids and communities through the power of stories. LitWorld’s children’s programs, including LitClubs and LitCamps, reach almost a million children across the United States, and in more than 30 countries, and their holiday, World Read Aloud Day, reaches tens of millions in over 170 countries. The Gala was held at Current at Chelsea Piers in New York City and themed “A World of Stories.” Guests included over 200 authors, publishers, educators, community and business leaders, raising funds to support LitWorld’s groundbreaking story-based programs.
This year, LitWorld proudly and humbly bestowed its “Be the Story Award” upon Jacqueline Woodson, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and winner of the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor Award. Jacqueline’s tremendous respect for every child’s value embodies everything LitWorld’s programs do. The way she brings her characters to life and projects emotional authenticity is at the heart of the organization’s work.
LitWorld Executive Director Dorothy Lee shared, “It is an honor and a privilege for LitWorld to share this award with Jacqueline Woodson, a groundbreaking, authentic storyteller, who reaches the hearts of all audiences and celebrates the strengths, resilience, and power of young people.” LitWorld’s Director of Program Innovation, Amber Peterson, presented the award to Jacqueline, and spoke to the power of her storytelling, sharing “Through her transformational and revolutionary body of work, she inspires each of us to walk proudly into those moments when no one is quite like us and embrace the platforms we all have to tell our stories.... With her characters, we’ve opened ourselves up to ‘the other side’ of class and race, learning that there are infinite ways to create a family, love one another, and experience the world.”
Jacqueline began the evening’s program with a poignant reading of her most recent picture book The Day You Begin, illustrated by two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López, a book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. Upon receiving the award, Jacqueline expressed gratitude and shared “Children’s literature has continued to show people the importance of their stories. [Authors] continue to show young people how absolutely powerful they are in this world.”
LitWorld Executive Director Dorothy Lee shared that “LitWorld’s vision is to create a world of equity, opportunity, and joy, which means that we need to address systemic root causes of poverty and unequal access....Internationally, mentors tell us, amazed, of children who could barely speak on day one of their weekly LitClubs, let alone read or write, then confidently sharing their stories within a few months.”
Dorothy continued “Thanks to a dynamic intersection of partnerships, LitClubs and LitCamps have reached almost a million children, across the United States, and in more than 30 countries over 5 continents.” After sharing numerous stories from kids, moms, and mentors in LitWorld programs throughout the world, she shared that “these stories, so small, so personal, bring our world closer. They illuminate all that we share, and all that makes us unique. . . . Stories change our brains, our hearts, our futures. Together we are weaving a world of stories as a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, and a network of opportunity and learning for all of us.”
LitWorld is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by literacy expert Pam Allyn in 2007. The organization works with a broad coalition of national and international partners to ensure that young people worldwide can experience the joy and transformation of reading, writing, and storytelling. Their year-round, child-centered programming is designed to develop each of the 7 Strengths- Belonging, Kindness, Curiosity, Friendship, Confidence, Courage, and Hope-that LitWorld sees as inherent in every child. LitWorld programs encourage self-expression, build understanding, and cultivate confidence, using literacy as a tool and pathway for self-empowerment. Stories are humankind's greatest resource, and these stories are the key to creating social change. When kids have access to spaces where they are free to explore their identities, discover their strengths, and express their dreams, they become empowered to create lasting change in their lives, in their communities, and beyond.
Jacqueline Woodson is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor Award, and NAACP Image Award. Her adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, and her many books for young readers include Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture book Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn.