Chocolate Storytime May 2014

Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou at the May Chocolate Storytime

Maya AngelouAt the May 2014 Chocolate Storytime at La Pintoresca Branch Library, we began our afternoon reading about the life of author and poet, Maya Angelou (pronounced “an-je-low”), who passed away May 28, 2014.  Our featured picture book was “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me at All,” named after a poem by the same name, authored by Maya Angelou.  The children were very engaged in the poetic reading as well as the graffittiesque and provocative illustrations of Jean-Michel Basquait.  We also read “Caged Bird,” another very popular poem by Maya Angelou named for the caged-bird image that Lawrence Dunbar used in his poem “Sympathy.”  Before we began reading, one of the children offered an explanation of why a caged bird sings.  Simply put, she said, “Because he wants to get out.”

To celebrate Maya Angelou’s literary legacy through art, we created portrait expressions of her using ink and soft pastels.  Since the chalky texture of the soft pastels can be a bit messy, wet wipes were on hand and smocks were given out to protect clothing.  Chocolate Storytime artists received instruction on creating the background using their fingers to blend various colors of soft pastels.  In preparation for the portrait foreground, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdistinguishable physical characteristics of Maya Angelou’s face–her silver streak of hair, the dip in her lip, the slight gaps between her teeth, and sparkle in her eyes–were pointed out.  Oil pastels were used for her face and artists were reminded to use blended colors of browns, blacks, reds, and highlight colors for the skin pigment.

Although storytime is thought to be targeted for kids only, it is actually a family experience where parents, siblings, relatives and friends can all participate.  A grandmother created the beautiful  portrait to the right, illustrating her memories of Maya Angelou as a young calypso dancer.

Chocolate Storytime guests were also invited to write a letter to their dads or other loved ones for Father’s Day.  Kids were encouraged to do more letter writing this summer in support of preserving the door-to-door delivery of the United States Post Office and to buy the new Jimi Hendrix postage stamp, currently part of the U.S. Post Office’s Music Icons series.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the art and letter writing activities, guests nibbled on snacks, chocolate treats and fudge popsicles, all donated by retired school teacher, Barbara Lindsey, from Inglewood, California.  For pictures of the May Chocolate Storytime, visit our Photo Albums tab.

We will have storytime the last Friday of the month, throughout the summer.  You can download and distribute the Summer Chocolate Storytime Flyer to help spread the word.

Below, listen to Maya Angelou read several of her poems, including, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me at All,” which she says she wrote “for all children who whistle in the dark and who refuse to admit that they’re frightened out of their wits”:

Chocolate Storytime May 2014 Booklist

Below are the books that we read at this month’s Chocolate Storytime.  Most of the children’s books are purchased from Eso Won Bookstore in Los Angeles and later donated to the Pasadena Public Library.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me At AllLife Doesn’t Frighten Me

poem by Maya Angelou and paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat; edited by Sara Jane Boyers

Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all…

Maya Angelou’s brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.  From Good Reads.

Reviews: Good Reads and Amazon

This Lilttle Light of MineThis Little Light of Mine

illustrated by E.B. Lewis

The artwork in this book beautifully accompanies the words to this African-American spiritual dating back to the days of slavery.  The score is included in the book so that readers can learn to play and sing and shine their light for everyone to see.  The children enjoyed saying in unison, “let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Reviews: Good Reads and Amazon

African American PoetryAfrican American Poetry

edited by Arnold Rampersad and Marcellus Blount and illustrated by Karen Barbour

From this rich book of poetry, we read the one of Maya Angelou’s most admired poems, “Caged Bird.”

The caged bird sings/with a fearful trill/of things unknown/but longed for still/and his tune is heard/on the distant hill/for the caged bird/sings of freedom.

Reviews: Good Reads and Amazon

If it Rains PancakesIf it Rains Pancakes:  Haiku and Lantern Poems

by Brian P. Cleary and illustrated by Andy Rowland

This is definitely a poetry adventure that contains clever haiku and lantern poems that make you think.  We read the poems “What if” and “Reversal.”

Reviews: Good Reads and Amazon

The Colors of UsThe Colors of Us

by Karen Katz

An artist mother goes on a neighborhood journey to teach her child that there are lots of different shades of brown.  They find neighbors who are light yellow brown, like creamy peanut butter; chocolate brown, like cupcakes; peachy and tan, honey, and reddish brown, like leaves in the fall; light cocoa brown and butterscotch; golden brown, like pizza crust; bronze and amber, like a princess; ginger and chili powder; tawny tan like coconuts and coffee toffee.  This is a beautiful book with brilliantly colored illustrations.

Reviews: Good Reads and Amazon

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