A socially aware reading series debuts at Rahway Public Library

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RAHWAY, NJ — A new reading series began at Rahway Public Library Café.

It’s a collaborative effort between the city of Rahway, Rahway Social Justice Commission, Union County and the Rahway Special Improvement District. It aims to provide education and resources while focusing on using literature and storytelling as tools to seek equity and justice.

The series began with a focus on Pride. Jessie Wilson, a teacher and lifelong Rahway resident, read “’Twas the Night Before Pride,” a children’s book by Joanna McClintick; illustrated by Juana Medina. The story mentions the riot at Stonewall, but also the power of strength when people bond together.

“I loved it!” said a little girl in the audience.

Karla Alvarez, founder of I Love 2 Read Book and literacy Organization, said they will hit social justice topics throughout the series to bring conversations to the community; and to focus on spreading the joy of reading.

Children’s librarian Liz Karstadt said, “We’re excited for this first event in the series. We’re hoping to showcase some books in our collection to the community. I’m very excited to be working with Social Justice and I Love 2 Read. I’m so excited to host this.”

Other Pride books at the Rahway Library include “David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBTQ Music,” by Darryl W. Bullock; “We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir,” by Samra Habib; and “Pride Puppy!” by Robin Stevenson.

Teddy, age 11, said, “I like Pride. People who are mistreated for who they are, they should fight back. It’s not what you are, it’s who you are.”

Nutan Bhurane came with her children, ages 9 and 4. She said, “I just came in for books and saw the event. It’s good for the children. They learn. Be accepting of all people. They enjoyed it.”
Ian Sloat, library director, said that this was the first of many important subjects.

In a press release, the Rev. Marti Robinson, chairman of Rahway’s Social Justice Commission, said, “It is long overdue for our beloved community to listen, learn and be enlightened as we gain understanding during Pride Month. It should be common sense that every single person — straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual — deserves to be treated with acceptance, inclusion and respect based on the letter of the law and in the mind, heart, words, actions and spirit of our society.”

To learn more about I Love 2 Read, visit: https://www.instagram.com/ilove2read_blf/.
To learn more about the Rahway Public Library, visit: https://www.rahwaylibrary.org/.

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta