Literacy Program and Guilds Center for Community Health Host Book Unveiling at Fresno School

Photo of Lynne Ashbeck, Juan Felipe Herrera and Brian Baker

(Fresno, Calif.) – On Monday, Valley Children’s Literacy Program and Guilds Center for Community Health hosted a special book reveal event at Juan Felipe Herrera Elementary School in Fresno. During the event, former U.S. Poet Laureate and Fowler native Juan Felipe Herrera unveiled his new book, “Kids to Kids Choir,” at a special reading for first and second graders at the school named in his honor. Herrera wrote the book to lift the spirits of children during the COVID-19 pandemic and of the staff at Valley Children’s who care for them.

"It was a great combination of positive efforts between Valley Children’s and the school,” said Herrera. “This is the first time I introduced a book to the school, so it meant a lot to me. There was so much harmony felt during the reading, which is why we want to keep kids reading and using their voice... because all children have a beautiful voice."

Herrera was the national poet laureate of the United States from 2015-2017 and is a Fresno State University poet in residence. After the reading, Herrera – along with Valley Children’s SVP and Chief Community Impact Officer Lynne Ashbeck and Valley Children’s Medical Librarian and Literacy Program Coordinator Brian Baker – distributed more than 800 books, so that every student would have their own copy to take home.

“To hear Juan Felipe read this book and to watch kids read along, sing and dance with him and to thank Valley Children's for sharing a copy of the book with every child in the school really symbolizes the heart of our organization and the heart of our community impact work,” said Ashbeck. “Literacy is a key driver of a child's success and [this event] was the perfect example where 'one book' was so much than just the book.”

Photo of Juan Filipe Herrera reading his book to children at Juan Filipe Herrera Elementary School
First and second graders listen as former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera reads his book, "Kids to Kids Choir"

Keeping kids well where they live, learn and play is a core tenet of the Guilds Center for Community Health, which was established to help bridge the exceptional care kids receive within the entire Valley Children’s network…and the health impacts they face outside of the Hospital’s walls.

“This event was the perfect melding of art and literacy with kids who adored Mr. Herrera,” said Baker. “These kids all received a precious gift of his book that they will treasure and hopefully spur a love of reading, language and literacy in each of them.”

“Kids to Kids Choir” will be available for purchase later this month in the Hospital Gift Shop. Proceeds benefit Valley Children’s. Herrera’s next book, “I Am the Future,” is also inspired by Valley Children’s and will be published early next year.

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