The 8th annual Kids Reading Across Rhode Island program kicked off at the State House on Saturday, May 13, 2017 where Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, authors of Save Me a Seat, signed books, fielded questions from the KRARI Jr. Press Corps, and addressed children and adults in the Governor’s State Room. The kick-off also marked the beginning of the 2017 statewide Summer Reading Program. This summer’s theme, “Build a Better World,” is truly captured in Save Me a Seat,making the book a perfect fit for KRARI 2017.
This year's KRARI Honorary Chair, internationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral, welcomed attendees and reminded everyone that reading leads to storytelling, and storytelling leads to reading. Before reading excerpts from the book, Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan gave a little background on the origin of Save Me a Seat and how they came to work together. They also shared that by trusting one another they were able to have meaningful discussions about the assumptions they had about both American and Indian culture. Hundreds of parents, children, librarians, and teachers attended the public celebration, which included a dance performance from Taal Dance Studio demonstrating traditional movements representing India's 29 states. Paws, the PawSox mascot, was on hand to greet baseball fans of all ages. Sports fans were also invited to meet players from St. Columbas' Cricket Club and to learn more about cricket gear. Librarians from the Westerly Public Library, Woonsocket Public Library, South Kingstown Public Library, East Providence Library, and Warwick Public Library offered Save Me a Seat inspired crafts.
High school actors from the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts, in partnership with The Gamm Theatre, performed a preview of the play they wrote based on Save Me a Seat. Their lively performance invited audience participation and captured the spirit of the book. The full length production will be performed at public libraries and schools this spring.
Many exhibitors rounded out the celebration, including the India Association of RI, Providence Children's Film Festival, Rhody Ramble, RI Children's Book Award, RI Festival of Children's Books & Authors and the RI Middle School Book Award
Throughout the summer Rhode Island public libraries will be hosting programs featuring Save Me a Seat, using book sets supplied by the Office of Library and Information Services and the RI Center for the Book. Public schools also received book sets and students and teachers will discuss the book this spring.
Kids Reading Across Rhode Island is a project of the RI Office of Library and Information Services in partnership with the Rhode Island Center for the Book. Kids Reading Across RI 2017 is supported with major funding from Institute for Museum and Library Services, TD Bank, and the Andrade-Faxon Charities for Children. For photographs visit Flickr.