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Boston Book Festival’s Shelf Help program returns this school year

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  Libraries at UP Academy Holland in Dorchester and Malden High School to get infusion of high-quality books, author visits

  On August 26, the Boston Book Festival (BBF) in partnership with the Boston-based nonprofit literacy organization Wondermore announced that UP Academy Holland in Dorchester and Malden High School are the 2022 recipients of this year’s Shelf Help grants, which will include an infusion of new books and author visits by “Frizzy” author Claribel A. Ortega and illustrator Rose Bousamra, and Malinda Lo, author of “A Scatter of Light.” The BBF’s Shelf Help partnership is a competitive grant program that provides two Greater Boston area school libraries (one K-8 and one 9-12) with new books to expand and update their collections. In addition, each school will have a visit by an author or illustrator curated by Wondermore, a local organization dedicated to inspiring young readers. The Shelf Help author school visits will take place on Friday, October 28.

  “Literature can change lives and the Boston Book Festival, through our Shelf Help initiative, strives to put great children’s literature on the shelves of under-resourced schools where kids can read and be challenged, entertained, and inspired by them,” said BBF Founder and Board Chair/Executive Director Deborah Porter. “As always, it is a pleasure to work with our fabulous partner, Wondermore, in accomplishing this goal.”

  The purchase of new books for the school libraries is made possible by donations from anyone wanting to help stock the school libraries. From now until the end of October, the BBF is accepting monetary donations at bostonbookfest.org/year-round-events/shelf-help to hit each school’s goal of $1,500. Books for the new libraries will be delivered in November.

  At UP Academy Holland in Dorchester, “Frizzy” author Claribel A. Ortega and artist Rose Bousamra will visit. “Frizzy” (MacMillan) is a middle-grades graphic novel that will be released on Oct. 18, 2022. Malden High School (77 Salem St., librarian Mary Liberge) will have an in-person appearance by Malinda Lo, author “A Scatter of Light” (Dutton Books for Young Readers). Fresh off the success of her book “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2021, among other honors, Lo’s novel will be released on Oct. 4, 2022.

  UP Academy Holland’s librarian, Iris Santana, said that in addition to the gift of the books is the lasting lesson for the students of seeing themselves in the characters and their authors. “Representation is very important. If students can see themselves in people who teach them, it empowers them to achieve equal greatness,” Santana said. “It can inspire students when they see members of the world at large not only for young girls of color, but as an opportunity to look through their own mirrors and experiences. It will perhaps provide a window to different perspectives, too.”

  BBF is partnering with Wondermore, which originally began in 1983 as The Children’s Literature Foundation. As Wondermore, the organization now focuses on connecting Boston-area students to authors and illustrators who reflect the region’s diverse and vibrant communities.

  In 2017, BBF launched its Shelf Help partnership program, a community-driven, youth-focused initiative aimed to expand a love of reading in children and young adults. A competitive annual grant program, Shelf Help awards two Boston-area school libraries:

  • Brand-new, high-quality, culturally relevant books to fill their libraries in an effort to draw in more readers, to increase the number of books in schools that often have little or no funding for new collections and to ensure that books are meeting the needs and interests of the students in that particular school
  • A memorable school visit by a celebrated children’s/young adult author or illustrator curated by Wondermore’s experienced team.

  BBF Deputy Director Jessica Kent said Shelf Help offers a lasting way for students to connect with reading. “We’ve all experienced it: there was something incredibly special about holding a new book in your hand and wondering what new adventure you’d find inside,” said Kent. “As a kid, meeting an author in person—someone who wrote the book you read!—is a powerful and inspiring experience as well. The Shelf Help School Partnership Program offers both opportunities to students of two Boston-area schools.”

  For more information: https://bostonbookfest.org/year-round-events/shelf-help

About the Boston Book Festival

  Founded in 2009 by Deborah Porter, BBF is an independent nonprofit that presents an annual free eponymous book festival and other literary- and author-focused events throughout the year. The BBF aims to “celebrate the power of words to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight, and inspire…and promotes a culture of reading and ideas that enhances the vibrancy of our city.” The Festival is traditionally held each October and draws tens of thousands of attendees to Boston’s Back Bay for speaker presentations in the Boston Public Library and other locations in Copley Square. The annual book celebration combines a street festival with an array of free events with authors and other literary presenters from around the world.

  After two years of virtual programming, BBF will return to Copley Square as an in-person festival on Saturday, October 29. This year’s Festival comes on the heels of two successful in-person events: the Greater Roxbury Book Fair and Writers Fest, which was held as a stand-alone event this year, and Lit Crawl, an evening of author and literary happenings held in Kendall and Central Squares in Cambridge.

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