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The Library celebrates Black History Month

Friday January 27th, 2023

Leetress BurrisDuring Black History Month, The Library welcomes the new year with a full roster of surprises, insight, enrichment, and encounters with great books, authors, people, and even a fun movie 

For the Black History Month Author Visit, The Library welcomes Leetress M. Burris, who will read I Am Me! and A Wish for Snuggles for children up to 10 years old, 11 a.m. February 25 at East Shore Area Library.

  • Registration is required for Leetress Burris’ author visit, and space is limited. To register, visit dcls.org/events, or call 717-234-4961 and choose option 6.

Burris, of Delaware, is a medically retired elementary-school teacher who found her writing voice while recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke in 2018. Her recovery was built on prayers, faith, hard work and driven by the techniques she once practiced in the classroom such as phonics, rhyming, and reading children’s literature.

“I had to learn to walk and talk all over again,” she said. “I had to learn how to write. I had to learn how to put words together. The things I used to teach my first graders came back to me. Those strategies I used on them, I had to use on myself, and they worked. They really worked.”

Attendees will receive a copy of I Am Me!, which teaches kids “to really love themselves and who they are,” said Library Programming and Outreach Administrator Tynan Edwards. “We love the stories she writes, and we’re thrilled to introduce readers to writers in their midst. She likes to talk about overcoming obstacles. She’ll talk about how she lost her career and pivoted to something that’s really cool. She’s a writer now.”

Burris had become a teacher “not only to make a difference but be the difference in children’s lives,” but with some lingering deficits caused by the stroke, she couldn’t return to the classroom.

She was devastated by that turn of events but didn’t realize that the best was yet to come. One day, she said, God came to her and said: “Write. You have been reading and writing all your life, making up stories in the classroom at the drop of a hat.”

Burris credits God for bringing her on a long and fulfilling journey.

“He said, ‘Write,’ and that’s what I’ve been doing – writing,” she said. Currently, she has had seven books published, with an eighth coming out in March 2023.

Burris writes about the things she knows and loves. Her Chihuahua, who was “quite a character,” inspired A Wish for Snuggles. Her 5-year-old great-niece Cheyenne stars in I Am Me! as a little girl who loves the way she looks and everything about herself.

“I write books to help children with their self-esteem and to appreciate who they are, regardless of color, socioeconomic status, or gender,” she said. “I try to uplift children. In order for children really to appreciate books, sometimes they must connect. They must see themselves on the cover, or the message must relate to them.”

For her library presentation, Burris looks forward to meeting children and their families as she shares her message of positivity and continues her mission, honed in classrooms, of delivering enlightenment and self-esteem through discovery.

“Hopefully, the children will love what I have prepared for them,” she said. “I believe in ‘Teach one, reach one.’”

At The Library, Black History Month also offers a jampacked array of events for children and adults:

  • Black History Month Reading Challenge: February offers a chance to spotlight the richness of Black history, characters, and authors of color. How many books can you read? The Black History Month Reading Challenge runs from February 1 to 28. Prizes for readers who complete three badges through reading or activities include a free book, plus entries to win a $50 gift card or one of two $25 gift certificates to Good Brotha’s Book Café at McCormick Riverfront Library. Starting February 1, visit dcls.org/readingchallenges to register and log your reading.
  • Black History Month Reading List: The Library’s information staff absolutely loves to compile reading lists, so for Black History Month, they dove into the book world that abounds with titles illuminating Black life and history, today and yesterday.

    Whether you register for the Black History Month Reading Challenge or just want to explore new titles, you’re sure to find readable, enlightening choices here. They include adult nonfiction, such as African Americans of Harrisburg, by John Weldon Scott and Eric Ledell Smith; adult biography, including His Name is George Floyd, by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa; and adult fiction, such as Things Past Telling, by Sheila Williams.

    For younger readers, juvenile nonfiction offers such titles as We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, by Kadir Nelson; juvenile biographies of groundbreakers in aviation, medicine, music, and sports; young adult fiction, such as Black Boy/White School, by Brian F. Walker; and juvenile picture books and young adult nonfiction.
  • Wanda B. Knight, Ph.D.
    Wanda B. Knight, Ph.D.
    Live & Learn: Animating Democracy: Making History Matter: Featuring Rosalyn J. McPherson, Elyse Irvis and Wanda B. Knight, Ph. D. Ms. McPherson will discuss how The ROZ Group cultivates and manages ideas that connect the past, the present, and the future to communicate the visions and advance the strategic goals of their partners. Ms. Irvis will discuss growing up as a steward of K. Leroy Irvis's legacy. And also share her experience with starting B.L.A.C.C., Building Legacy and Celebrating Culture, where she’s giving business owners tools to get started and obtain funding even in the current economy. And, Dr. Knight will provide a candid exchange as a report card on the progress of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) movement. Register now.
  • Bright Star Touring Theatre: The ever-popular Bright Star returns for its first in-person performance since before the pandemic. The North Carolina-based troupe will present Black History’s Groundbreaking Geniuses. Children and parents will meet pioneers who might be new to them, including groundbreaking heart surgeon Daniel Hale Williams, NASA computer programmer and “Hidden Figure” Dorothy Vaughan, and author Ralph Ellison.

    The dynamic, interactive show is appropriate for kindergarten through fifth grade children. Shows will be presented at Elizabethville Area Library at 11:00 a.m. on February 11, and at East Shore Area Library at 3:00 p.m. February 11. Registration required and limited.
  • Novel Reels presents Hidden Figures: “The book was better,” people always say. Now, The Library introduces the Novel Reels series, showcasing the ties between popular movies and the books they came from. Hidden Figures, rated PG, will be screened for kids 10+ and adults at Northern Dauphin Library at 11:00 a.m. on February 4 and Madeline L. Olewine Memorial Library 11:00 a.m. on February 18.

    While the movie concentrates on three Black women mathematicians who were instrumental to NASA’s early space missions, attendees who come to the screening will receive a copy of the Margot Lee Shetterly book that introduces the full range of remarkable but once-overlooked people who made immeasurable contributions to NASA’s success. And of course, there will be popcorn. Registration required and limited.
  • History through Food with Chef Oliver: Lancaster’s dynamic chef Oliver Saye weaves storytelling into his cooking, sharing the African traditions and ingredients behind his low-country Southern dishes. In this entertaining program for all ages, attendees will learn how to prepare a new dish and get to enjoy a taste for themselves, 2:00 p.m. February 18 at East Shore Area Library. Registration required and limited.

“February is going to be a super-busy month,” said Edwards. “Our adult and youth programmers did a great job of putting together this awesome lineup for Black History Month and building what should be a really cool start to 2023 for The Library.”

For information and to register for programs, visit dcls.org/eventscalendar

Christina Lauver
Marketing & Public Relations Manager

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >