Books, Then Sundaes

Allan Appel PhotoSpirite Watson led the way helping to read an inspirational book about a powerful hat and what it means to be a foreigner.

Jayden Bolden thought the sundaes were particularly good with chocolate sauce and a ton of sprinkles.

And Valentine Moore was so comfortable with the reading and the event, he fell fast asleep on Marge Wiener’s leg for 15 minutes.

That was the scene in Newhallville as a summer series called “Books and Sundaes on Mondays” at the Harris & Tucker School.

It was one of the activities organized by the school’s director Kim Harris as part of the One City Initiative, a collaboration of the city’s 12 different community management teams to stage family-friendly activities, one per day in each neighborhood for 60 days of the summer.

Harris, One City Initiative’s founder, said that an new edition of her books-and-ice cream event will take place every Monday from 3 to 5 p.m.. It is one of about 800—and growing—events being listed on the One City site.

On the website, you can follow the links to print out a citywide “passport” and then take that sheet to events around town. Get the passport stamped, to qualify for cards and other rewards when One City concludes with ceremonies and big fun on the Green on Aug. 26.

A the reading event Monday, Jayden Bolden was first in line to get the vanilla ice cream, the foundation of his sundae, after he and his group of eight kids finished reading Tomi Ungerer’s neologism-filled euphonious tale, set in 19th Century Italy, called The Hat.

That book was brought to the group and read in the school’s cool, downstairs basement play room by Marge Wiener, an operating room nurse, the chair of the Westville/West Hills Management Team, and one of Harris’s co-movers and shakers in the One City management team-led movement.

Harris came downstairs after supervising the second reading group of toddlers out back in her school’s yard. She noticed that Valentine Moore had literally fallen asleep on Wiener’s leg, having tucked his arms inside his T-shirt, perhaps against the brisk air conditioning.

“One of the wonderful things about these collaborations,” said Harris, “is that my kids get a chance to touch people they wouldn’t normally.”

The story of Benito Badoglio, the book’s protagonist, is not one which her kids might have chosen themselves, she said. Nor would they normally have come in contact with a white operating room nurse, or the local politicians and other notables whom Harris has lined up to read to her kids at future Books and Sundaes on Mondays.

Before Valentine fell asleep, Wiener and Spirite Watson, her co-reader, talked about the meaning of “foreigner,” a word used in the story. Jayden Bolden wanted to know, and Wiener guided the group in a discussion of the answer.

Jayden said a foreigner is someone who wants to come to America.

“Why do people want to come to America?” Wiener asked.

“Because they want to see the good things we have,” Spirite Watson replied.

And so the discussion went, until it was sundae time upstairs.

Harris said she plans to take her summer camp kids to check out the Mitchell Branch Library’s art club in Westville.

The New Haven Free Public Library’s Readmobile will begin to make its appearance at next week’s Books and Sundaes on Mondays and for all the Mondays throughout the summer, Harris said.

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