Celebrating Local!
February 2023
Great news for a local author!

This month, it's hard not to be excited about a local author -- Arlington's Amina Luqman-Dawson. Her debut middle-grade novel, Freewater, won BOTH the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award in the American Library Association's annual celebration of best books.

Luqman-Dawson said she wrote the book in order to share the history of enslavement with her young son Zach, now 13. Freewater follows enslaved Black siblings, 12-year-old Homer and seven-year-old Ada, after their flight from a plantation to the fictional community of Freewater, a sanctuary for escaped slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp. Loosely based on a little-mined but important piece of history, this is an inspiring and deeply empowering story of survival, love, and courage. Congratulations to this newly minted local literary celebrity! Learn more about her and the book in this NPR podcast.
Speaking of local authors -- Meet Leah Henderson!
As a feature on our website, RIF of NOVA celebrates new(ish) books by writers and illustrators with a Northern Virginia area(ish) connection, with interviews, background, and author information. This month, we profile Leah Henderson.
60+ Countries, 40+ States, and a World of Stories
According to Leah Henderson's website, "it took nothing for her family to jump in a car, hop on a plane, climb on a camel, huddle in a rickshaw, or step aboard a dhow in search of adventure to learn, explore, and discover."

Leah's travels have given her an expansive world view, and her books reflect her wide range of interests and experiences. Her debut middle-grade novel was published in 2017, followed by several more works of fiction and nonfiction. Meet Leah by clicking here!
One Shadow on the Wall is based on an actual experience in Senegal, when Leah Henderson saw a lone boy on the beach and wondered, 'What happened to him before this moment? What took place later?'
Resource lists

A reminder that we also feature various book links on our website to help readers discover new book ideas for kids. Check out the Black History Month and Diverse Book listings by clicking here.

Literacy Bingo at Campbell Elementary
How about a game where everyone wins ... a NOVA RIF book! As part of the Language Arts Program in Arlington, Campbell Elementary School staged a bingo game where the prize was a book! Special thanks to Language Arts liaison and supervisor of Library Services Amy Hailey and Campbell reading specialist and NOVA RIF liaison Virginia Montminty for organizing this special event for Campbell kindergartners -- who had a blast "winning" a book at this very fun event!
At Hutchison, there were SNOW Many Great Books!
The lack of snow this year (okay, there was a dusting earlier this month!) did not deter a RIF of NOVA book distribution at Hutchison Elementary School in Fairfax County. Librarian and NOVA RIF liaison Marci Hoyt cleverly set the scene with penguin posters and displays to create excitement for reading. A special grant from the Vineyard Family Foundation meant that each child could pick TWO books to take home forever! Whoo hoo!
Note: Photos from other NOVA RIF book distributions from the 2022-2023 school year can be found by clicking here.
Getting even MORE books to deserving kids!
We started our like-new, gently used book program during the pandemic because so many children had no access to books. The program has been wildly successful, drawing in over 20,000 books, to date. Such kindness and generosity from the NOVA RIF community! Thank you!
As part of her mitzvah project, seventh grader Alexandra Kocsis held a book drive at her synagogue. She included a reading challenge activity where children could move a "hiker" on a map of the Israel National Trail (like the Appalachian Trail) to log their time reading, as well as learn more about Israel.
Sixth grader Jeffrey Monsky gave over a hundred books to NOVA RIF, including many of his favorites from two different series: the Magic Tree House and Charlie The Ranch Dog. These books will be grabbed up fast by new readers! Thank you, Jeffrey!
Eighth grader Wilcox Wray helped his grandmother, Cathy Wray, deliver a collection of gently used books to RIF of NOVA. A retired special education teacher, Cathy wanted her vast collection of children's books to reach children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience the joy of reading.

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