Annual December Brunch with Ibi Zoboi & Excellence in Programming Awards 2018

We closed out 2018 with our annual December Brunch and Installation of Officers on Thursday, December 13th, at the beautiful Roosevelt Public Library. Thank you to all who were able to attend!

Three awards for Excellence in Programming were given out at the brunch as well.

Pamela Pattwell’s Award-Winning Display

Pamela Pattwell, of the Massapequa Public Library, won the “Teen Display of the Year” for her beautiful display featuring a hand drawn lion with a handmade leaf mane. Laura Giunta, of the Garden City Public Library, won the “Most Innovative Program” for her Ghostbusters-themed Locked-in-the-Library Halloween Party. Finally, Christa Lucarelli, of the Farmingdale Public Library, won the “Successful Community Service Program” award for her Triple P Program, in which teens earn community service by partnering with teens with special needs. Congratulations to all of our award winners!

Our guest speaker, YA author Ibi Zoboi, gave the audience an overview of her writing life and how she has given back to her community. Kaysha Watson-Phillips, our president, kicked off the talk by reading Ibi’s “fun bio” from her website:

“Ibi Zoboi was born in Haiti and immigrated to New York with her mother when she was four years-old. Everything about her new home was both strange and magical. This is why she loves reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology. And she loves love stories, too! Ibi wears lots of bright colors and is a huge fan of mangos, avocados, dry humor, long-winded storytellers, and modest skirts. She also smiles, laughs, and cries often—sometimes all at once. She lives in Brooklyn with her three children, her husband the art teacher, and three pet turtles named Lucky, Jade, and Leo. It’s a messy house.”

Ibi explained that in her neighborhood, there were no bookstores growing up. Instead of Ibi.Zoboi_.2018.4buying books, she visited her local library, and un-returned books became her own personal library at home. She assured us that those books were eventually paid for!

One of the formative books in her life was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. She learned about herself and what it meant to be a young girl through that book as well as other Judy Blume books. Judy Blume became a safe space for Ibi.

As Ibi got older, reading was no longer “cool” among her peers, so she stopped reading for fun. Reading at home would have been a luxury, anyway, because her time was taken up by homework, MTV, and chatting on the phone.


Then, unfortunately, she was hit by a school bus and consequently confined to her house and bed for a time. It was during that time when she was forced to stay at home in bed that she rediscovered reading through Stephen King books. Instead of Judy Blume, Stephen King became her new safe space. Ibi recalled that her mother likely picked up Stephen King books only because they were on display at the library.

However, her true re-entry into reading was thanks to a movie star. After seeing Halle Berry in the movie Queen, she picked up the book the movie was based on after seeing it on a display at the library.  These stories are a great reminder that decision fatigue is a real thing, and that our patrons will pick up books they see on display!

“Good books rise up to reach its readers,” Ibi said. She didn’t know what a bestseller was, and didn’t particularly care. Books found their way into her life not because they were on lists, but because librarians knew their value and helped put them into her hands.

Ibi’s interests branched out to slave narratives, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison. This 30256109love of reading grew and grew, and included her love of writing. To spread her love of writing with the girls in her Brooklyn community, she formed a writing group and published the girls’ work under the title Daughters of Anacaona. She also connected to a group of girls in Haiti, and helped raise money for notebooks and cooks for the girls’ writing event.

Later, Ibi formed the “Brooklyn Blossoms Book Club,” a mother/daughter book club. At the big, one-time event, the girls had the option to do art projects that related to the books they had read, as well as meet the authors. Families could also apply for a library card and buy books at the event. It was Ibi’s love of books in the library, and not having a way to buy them, that sparked her to start this and other literacy programs.

Thank you to Ibi Zoboi for speaking at our event, and to Kaysha, our outgoing YASD president for planning this great morning!


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