826 valencia Tag

Reading Short Stories at 826 Valencia

Last week I had the chance to go speak to some beautiful little ones over at 826 Valencia st and 18th in The Mission District of San Francisco. I had never heard of the organization until the homie Raul J. Alcantar asked me to come through and speak to the kids. I arrived to a beautifully written “welcome” sign and got the sign from the ancestors that this is definitely part of what I need to be doing.

The day was part workshop and part reading as i showed them photos of my art, my sketchbooks, and some original paintings of some of the short stories. I love talking with this age group (mostly 3rd-5th grade) because they still laugh at my bad jokes, smile, and are not yet so serious. I did call and response with them, drew our names in graffiti styles, and answered a bunch of questions.

The funnest part was reading the stories. I have written words for all of them, but I don’t know them by heart so I usually just improvise with the basic storyline. And it came out great, they flipped through my books, and pointed to drawings with giggles. And one little boy stopped me mid sentence raising his hand to say “you’re art is COOL!”. Ha! me? Really? Child approval is the best!

 826 is an national organization that promotes literacy by teaching writing, story making, and book publishing workshops for ages 7-18. They had an amazing array of stories, zines, and books published by the babies! They’re words, so simple, yet so right on. As I finished Raul handed me a gift bag with some of their short stories (english/and spanish). Pure awesomeness as I read their stories about the first time they ate tres leches cake.

The walls of the writing workshop were also adorned with awards and photos of the children who put in the most effort with their writing, giving other children the extra push to improve theirs so that they too could get on the wall. I got to meet the Executive director, the staff, and I found out they have branches in Los Angeles , Brooklyn, Seattle, Boston, DC, and Chicago. Hopefully i’ll be able to take my son’s school there, if you have some youth who are interested in telling their story, i highly recommend it.

And did i mention that each location has a different themed store in the front? The SF (founding branch) is a freaking Pirate Store! How cool is that? A little girl named Camila gave me a tour of the ship, stopping to tell me “I’m in this book”. I said “So then you’re published then, huh?” To which she replied, “Yeah, I guess so”. Rob smiling….

If you know of an author or illustrator who knows how to handle his or herself around little ones please hit up the man Raul and let him know.

I’m proud to say that my visit is the second of its kind after the great writer Luis J. Rodriguez!!! Wow, can there be more adventures like this on the horizon?