A Young Friends Bookshelf
By Annaka Harris, illustrated by John Rowe. Four Elephants Press, 2013. 32 pages. $16.95/hardcover; $8.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 1 and up.
Reviewed by Tom and Sandy Farley
How do you let children and parents know that it is okay to say, “I don’t know”? This is what led Annaka Harris to write I Wonder, a book about cosmically large questions. A young girl asks, “I wonder if the earth and moon are friends.” Her mother’s response leads to the question, “Mama, where does gravity come from?” Some questions don’t have easy answers. They make you wonder until you feel dizzy.
The mother and daughter share a warm, twilight walk through trees to a seashore, beautifully illustrated by John Rowe. The soft focus and play of colored light create a calm and safe environment where unanswerable questions are welcomed. Words and pictures combine to inspire awe and wonder.
This book fits well with the Sparkling Still curriculum, particularly the aspect that invites children to wonder about values and relationships, as well as the reminder that we should not be afraid to share “big” words and concepts with children. Though most appropriate for ages two to seven, the language is natural and doesn’t feel like talking down but respectful conversation where neither adult nor child is afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
Tom and Sandy Farley are members of the Palo Alto (Calif.) Meeting, storytellers, booksellers with Earthlight bookstore, and co-authors of the Earthcare for Children curriculum.
Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton
By Patricia Polacco. Scholastic Press, 2014. 40 pages. $17.99/hardcover. Recommended for ages 3–5.
Reviewed by Alison James
Patricia Polacco has written and illustrated over 100 books for children, so when she turns her hand to Clara Barton, it is with some skill. The writing shines, as does her familiar loose pencil and watercolor paintings with a palette of bright but natural colors. Despite Clara Barton’s fame as an adult, this book focuses on her childhood and only mentions her career in the endnotes. The drama is found in Clara’s struggle with a lisp, and in how she developed her ability to heal with her hands. She first befriends plants and animals in the wild, and then discovers she can cure many ailments among the farm animals. But when her brother Davie falls from the rafters and nearly dies, it takes three years of dedication for Clara to inspire him to try to walk again.
The range of emotions in this simple story are felt in both the words and the illustrations: even on the opening page, the gray-to-death face of infant Clara’s mother is deeply disturbing. But the very next pages show Clara and her brother Davie with arms flung wide in exuberant joy, riding a horse, and swinging from an oak tree in the meadow. Polacco writes, “She had a special way with critters and found joy in the beauty that sprang from the soil.” Later when Davie refuses to try to stand up and walk after his injury, Clara says, “Davie, if I can’t help you walk, I’m useless!”
Although the subtitle calls this book a true story, indicating it is nonfiction, the author does not cite any sources for the events or the dialogue, and the endnote focuses more on Polacco’s distant family connection with the Bartons than on the events of this famous woman’s life. This book would perhaps be more aptly seen as historical fiction.
However, the book does include many things to talk about in its simple family narrative. There is a painful bullying scene at Clara’s one attempt to go to school. The book is filled with appreciation for nature and healing with heart, hands, and spirit. But most importantly, Clara and Davie shows how an ordinary child, even one laboring with a disability, can become one of the most influential women of her century.
Alison James is a member of South Starksboro (Vt.) Meeting.
A Gift for Mama
By Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Alison Jay. Knopf, 2014. 32 pages. $17.99/hardcover; $9.78/eBook. Recommended for ages 4–8.
Reviewed by Margaret T. Walden
A story about love can always find a place in Friends First-day classes. Oskar sets out early with a single coin to find the perfect gift for his mama’s birthday. His search of old Vienna in Austria takes him through muddy streets lined with bakeries, clock and clothing shops, the opera house, a coffeehouse, and a path along the Danube River.
“The windows were full of treasures. Cakes, hats, music boxes . . . What can I buy? wondered Oskar.” What does Oskar find for his single coin?
This is a progressive tale. As Oskar finds several “perfect” gifts and is coerced into trading them, his empathy for others is demonstrated, but he worries that he will end his search with empty hands. Oskar becomes increasingly reluctant as several adults carelessly take advantage of him for their own purposes: a coachman snatches Oskar’s book to put under the Empress’s stuck carriage wheel. The Empress, however, apologizes with a gift of sugared violets. This he gives to a little girl crying by the river, for she also has no gift for her mother’s birthday. But there is a happy ending, as Mama declares Oskar’s last gift “perfect.” In the background, a baker is seen delivering a lighted birthday cake.
The author, Linda Ravin Lodding, who has lived extensively in Austria, imagines a Vienna of the early 1800s. Those of us who have encountered The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool will recognize Alison Jay’s crackle-varnished alkyd paintings, covering almost to the edges of the pages as they light up old Vienna. Small dogs, birds, cats, dancers—tiny details in abundance help bring the story to life, making it one to explore with young listeners more than once. Love between mother and child is demonstrated as warmly as the light shining from the windows of the Vienna shops.
Margaret T. Walden, a longtime member of Detroit (Mich.) Meeting, recently moved to Lakewood, Ohio, and expects to be attending Cleveland Meeting.
Mahavira: The Hero of Nonviolence
By Manoj Jain, illustrated by Demi. Wisdom Tales, 2014. 28 pages. $17.95/hardcover. Recommended for ages 4–8.
Reviewed by Lisa Rand
As a parent, the need for teachers of nonviolence presses upon me with great urgency. I long for messages of peace to take center stage in the news and in the education of our children. As our world grows smaller, it is especially important to lift up the message of nonviolence from diverse perspectives. Nonviolence is not new, after all: it did not start with the Civil Rights Movement or with the birth of Jesus.
In Mahavira: The Hero of Nonviolence, Manoj Jain shares the story and spiritual teachings that are foundational to the Jain religion. About 2,600 years ago in India, Prince Vardhamana earned the name Mahavira (meaning “very brave”) through demonstrating his profound respect for all forms of life, even those considered to be dangerous. His spiritual journey taught him the importance of overcoming greed, anger, and pride to live peacefully with all of creation. (The word jain alludes to this conquering of worldly passions.) Mohandas Gandhi, whose life example has inspired many peacemakers, learned a great deal from Mahavira.
Artist Demi depicts scenes from Mahavira’s life with rich details and a vibrant color palette. Even the tiniest of animal faces seem to be full of tenderness, bringing delight to my animal-loving daughter. Her lively scenes bring a gallery of South Asian paintings into the reader’s hands.
For Jains, nonviolence extends to the animal kingdom and the natural world, including a vegetarian diet. When I adopted a vegetarian diet as a teen, I read with great admiration about Jain commitment to honor the sacredness of life. Although I had read some about Jainism, I did not know about Forgiveness Day until I read this book. Setting aside a day to ask forgiveness of one another would be a step toward healing and peace-building. For this book, the author, illustrator, and publisher worked closely with JAINA (the Federation of Jain Associations in North America). Their website has many resources for readers inspired to learn more.
All people can learn positive lessons from Jain core teachings of nonviolence, pluralism, and non-possessiveness (avoiding greed and embracing generosity). This book will make an excellent resource for First-day school, for Friends classrooms, and for public libraries.
Lisa Rand is a member of Unami Meeting in Pennsburg, Pa. She writes the blog Light to Read By at Lighttoreadby.wordpress.com.
Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence
By Gretchen Woelfle, illustrated by Alix Delinois. Carolrhoda Books, 2014. 32 pages. $17.95/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Reviewed by Anne Nydam
Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence is a strong, beautiful book about a strong, brave woman. The story of Mumbet was new to me, and I imagine it will be new to many adults as well as children. Mumbet was a slave owned by a wealthy Massachusetts man at the time of the American Revolution. When she heard her master and his associates discussing the Declaration of Independence and the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, she felt the words “All men are born free and equal” should apply to her, too. She approached a lawyer in town, and he agreed to take her case to court, where she won her freedom. Two years later, with Mumbet’s case as precedent, Massachusetts’s courts ruled all slavery illegal.
The story is told from Mumbet’s point of view, bringing out her thoughts and feelings. She comes across as smart, thoughtful, stubborn, strong, and patient. The bright, bold, sometimes rough paintings that illustrate the book emphasize Mumbet’s strength of character, too. This story will certainly be of interest to history buffs, and would be appropriate for use in teaching children about bringing an end to slavery, although there does not seem to be any Quaker connection in this particular historical episode. There are some nice notes at the end giving further details of Mumbet’s life after she gained her freedom.
However, I think the book’s importance is much broader. This is not a story in which powerful people (Quakers or others) swoop down to rescue helpless victims. This is a story in which a person of creativity and intelligence stands up to oppression and works for what she believes. She works hard, and she works for years. She diligently does all that her master and cruel mistress demand of her but without ever allowing herself to be crushed into submission. She stands up to those who enslave her with sometimes subversive and always nonviolent spirit. Mumbet is no cardboard character or historical footnote but a real human with a personality and personhood that a reader can’t help but connect to.
Because it focuses on small, specific vignettes, rather than sweeping statements about the brutality of the slave system, the book should be suitable for children as young as six. While the concrete moments allow these younger children to get something from the story, there are plenty of abstract concepts to engage older children. The standard picture-book format will be accessible to elementary-aged children, but this is a book that would make a fine jumping-off point for a discussion with older children and even teens and adults. Discussions could focus on not just the history of slavery, but also facing oppression, speaking truth to power, and finding ways to let your spirit shine, even in circumstances where you might seem to be powerless.
Anne Nydam is a member of Wellesley (Mass.) Meeting, where she teaches First-day school. A former middle school art teacher, she now stays home with her own children, while working as an artist and author.
A Boy and a Jaguar
By Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 32 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $9.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Reviewed by Margaret Crompton
What kind of book is this?
It is an autobiography: “The teachers think I am broken. Am I?” Alan Rabinowitz, who has stuttered all his life, narrates personal and professional experience with knowledge and conviction. Even when speaking fluently, he says, “Nothing has changed on the inside. I still feel broken.” However, the boy has always been able to speak clearly to his pets and a zoo-caged jaguar since, like him, “animals can’t get the words out.” The man has devoted his life to wildlife conservation, honoring the promise of the voiceless boy “to give animals a voice and keep them from harm.” The need is for humans to listen and learn.
It is bibliotherapy: Responses to his stuttering caused the boy to be defined as “disturbed,” and to feel isolated and odd. It’s always heartening to recognize how public achievement may develop from and overcome private suffering. However, I’m concerned that this text could stimulate anxiety in children who might wonder whether they, too, are “broken” and how they should compensate. Also, I’d prefer the labeling phrase “I am a stutterer” to be replaced by “I have a stutter.”
It is educational: This short book for young readers is packed with ideas about children, communication, conservation, disadvantage, education, ethics, and respect. The text includes some complex sentence structures and vocabulary, but shifts in style detract from narrative consistency. It is generously illustrated in color, but some illustrations are difficult to decode, as small pictures are set within impressionistic background scenes. Others are cartoon-like. However, children would probably respond to pictures of animals, undistracted by bibliotherapeutic, educational, or conservation messages.
It is a storybook: This engaging “Ugly Duckling” narrative can be read either as a simple tale or as a parable.
Although I have reservations about its details, I think that this book could contribute to libraries and could provide useful material for First-day schools in meetings.
Margaret Crompton (of Britain Yearly Meeting) is a writer and lecturer whose most recent publication is Pendle Hill Pamphlet 419 Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Well-being.
Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education
By Norman H. Finkelstein. Calkins Creek, 2014. 80 pages. $16.95/hardcover; $7.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Reviewed by Emilie Gay
Schools of Hope is a book about the generosity of the American philanthropic spirit. “Give while you live” was the philosophy of Julius Rosenwald, the President of Sears, Roebuck and Company. After meeting Booker T. Washington, Rosenwald went on to change the lives of more than 600,000 African Americans.
While Sears, Roebucks and Company changed rural commerce at the turn of the twentieth century, its leader Julius Rosenwald offered hope and opportunity to African Americans by building 5,357 schools for black children in 15 Southern states. Even though Rosenwald objected to the schools he funded being named after him, they came to be known as Rosenwald schools. The narrative that moves the story along is filled with quotes from teachers, parents, and children from the Rosenwald schools, as well as many human rights leaders from the period. It documents Rosenwald’s work to “cure the things that seem wrong.”
The book also includes a great many photographs and primary source materials. For example, we see the schools and the conditions of African American education before and after Rosenwald. There are also photographs of many prominent figures of the early 1900s, such as Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone.
This book allows us to see another side of the American industrial story. We see the titans of industry who created philanthropy. The book offers quotations from such leading figures as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Franklin Roosevelt, and James Weldon Johnson. The author captures in his narrative the essence of the self-help movement that was the philosophy behind Rosenwald’s work. We learn in these pages about a true American hero who embodied characteristics that set the stage for modern philanthropy. It’s a good read and perfect for any First-day school.
Emilie Gay is a member of Brooklyn (N.Y.) Meeting.
Gandhi: My Life Is My Message
By Jason Quinn, illustrated by Sachin Nagar. Campfire Graphic Novels, 2014. 212 pages. $16.99/paperback. Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Reviewed by Kellie Carle
Gandhi: My Life Is My Message tells the story of Mohandas Gandhi through the use of illustrations and first-person narrative as he struggles to liberate India from British rule. This graphic novel starts at the beginning of Gandhi’s life and continues through his years, not only as a leader of the freedom movement in India, but as a lawyer, a husband, and a father.
This story may appeal to Quakers because Gandhi was a leading example of what it means to live a simple life. Also, he led and liberated a country through the use of nonviolence. However, this graphic novel also educates its readers about the struggles Gandhi faced in his personal life. Many are familiar with Gandhi as a leader of nonviolent protest, but may not recognize that he carried these values into his personal life and taught the value of simplicity and nonviolence to his friends and family.
The illustrations by Sachin Nagar show readers the brutality the people of India faced, as well as the dangers Gandhi encountered while leading his people to freedom. The recommended minimum age for this book is 12 because of the realistic violent images and language used. It is important to teach youth about nonviolence and to show them examples of this course of action shaping history. This book provides a personal perspective of the life of one of the greatest leaders of all time, humanizing him in order to make him more relatable to readers.
Kellie Carle was an intern at Friends Journal during the spring of 2014. She recently received her master’s in creative writing from West Chester University.
American Quakers (Second Edition)
By Wim Coleman. History Compass, 2011. 90 pages. $7.95/paperback. Recommended for young adults.
By Peter Furtado. Shire Publications, 2013. 64 pages. $12.95/paperback; $7.95/eBook. Recommended for young adults.
Two titles reviewed by Paul Buckley
Friends need a good introduction to Quakerism written expressly for adolescents—a book young people can read on their own or in a group. While there are some materials written for adults that younger Friends would find useful and accessible (I would recommend Silence and Witness: the Quaker Tradition by Michael Birkel), the two slim volumes reviewed here may be the best available overviews of Quakerism aimed specifically at that age group.
These books have very different approaches. American Quakers depends upon extensive quotes from Friends and friends of Friends to illustrate Quakerism in the United States. The book is divided into three sections: a review of historic events, some topics of importance to Friends, and examples of the ways in which Quakers have been portrayed in American literature. Each section is introduced with a brief, well-written description of its topic. These will be easy for an older teen to follow, but the quoted texts require more effort. Many are in older forms of English, and the unusual punctuation and spelling of earlier centuries are reproduced. Further increasing the difficulty in reading them, these texts pack a lot of information into a few paragraphs.
Wim Coleman appears to have a general grasp of American Quakerism, but slips up on the particulars. For example, he declares that the separations of the Religious Society of Friends into Liberal, Conservative, and Evangelical branches have “lost much of their significance” and today “are seldom even thought of.” If anything, the distinctions between our branches are greater today than they were 50 years ago. Even so, his use of primary source materials offers readers direct and personal insight into the lives, beliefs, and actions of selected Quakers from the 1650s to the 1960s.
Peter Furtado’s Quakers is more visually appealing. It focuses on the history, faith, and practice of Quakerism in Britain, with limited additional information on Friends elsewhere. As such, Liberal unprogrammed Quakerism takes center stage, although it is acknowledged that this branch is a small minority within the worldwide Religious Society of Friends. In relatively few pages, Furtado presents a remarkable breadth of information on how British Friends have contributed to progress in business, the arts, science, and especially in social activism. The scope of the coverage is all the more remarkable since every page complements the text with one or more pictures, drawings, photographs, or other graphics.
While neither of these books is the in-depth exploration of Quakerism that our young people deserve, their brevity might be a plus. Individual sections are short enough that they could be read out loud by a group and used as a starting point for discussion led by a well-prepared and well-informed guide.
Paul Buckley attends Community Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. Paul is a Quaker historian and theologian whose most recent book is The Essential Elias Hicks.
The Impossible Knife of Memory
By Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking Press, 2014. 400 pages. $18.99/hardcover; $9.99/paperback; $9.78/eBook. Recommended for young adults.
Reviewed by Lucinda Hathaway
I just finished reading this book a second time, and it was more intense the second time around. Hayley Kincaid, the main character, is living in a whirlwind of trouble and dysfunction. Hers is a two-person family consisting of Hayley, a high school senior, and her father a war veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The love and connection between them is one of the positive aspects of this young adult novel and gives hope in the midst of much turmoil and sadness. These two have been traveling the country in her father’s 18-wheeler, not landing long enough to create new memories or remember old ones. The decision was made to return to their hometown and live in Grandma’s house so that Hayley could go to the high school her father had attended and have at least one year of stability and normalcy.
Well, that is sort of not what happened. I say sort of because part of me fears that all of the problems she faced are all too normal in high school today. At this point—true confession—I admit to finishing high school over 50 years ago. Is that relevant? I’m not sure, but perhaps that explains some of my impressions. Do not for one minute think that I am not aware that some of these problems existed 50 years ago. I know they did. What did not exist was a Laurie Halse Anderson to write and bring them to light. Most of these problems were not discussed, and certainly drugs were not as readily available. Anderson writes with grace and an intensity that is every bit as upsetting as the problems Hayley is facing. I send kudos to Anderson for tackling these issues, and I am grateful that my own father came home from WWII, after being gone for two years, without these nightmares. It was a different time and a different experience for him and for us.
Anderson uses a clever device to insert the father’s horrible memories into the story by making them autonomous chapters written in italics. Reading those chapters is very difficult: the father’s PTSD is well-charted and described in a way that is most realistic and credible. Tempering those chapters by interspersing events of Hayley’s teenage life is a very good strategy.
If Hayley were only dealing with a troubled father that would have been quite enough for one high school senior, but both of her friends were also dealing with serious family issues. If you went down a list of social problems a teen might face in high school, you’d find that most showed up in this book. By the end of the book, I was longing for an ordinary kid whose only concern was having a date for the prom or making the basketball team.
I am not sure where this book belongs. It would be a dynamite book to discuss in a teenage book club, if there is such a thing. Counselors might like to pass it on to a kid having some difficulties. The book certainly made clear that wars are fought not only on foreign soil; the horrible ramifications of war also affect the homefront on all levels. This is an anti-war novel of the first order, and for that I thank Laurie Halse Anderson. I only ask, Laurie, please give me a little frivolity and fun. On the other hand, maybe this was not the place for that.
Lucinda Hathaway is a member of Sarasota (Fla.) Meeting and wrote Takashi’s Voyage and ’Round the World.
Radical Jesus: A Graphic History of Faith
Edited by Paul Buhle, artwork by Sabrina Jones, Gary Dumm, and Nick Thorkelson. Herald Press, 2013. 128 pages. $24.99/paperback. Recommended for young adults.
Reviewed by Kody Hersh
When the meaning of something becomes distorted, unclear, or loaded with baggage, often what is needed is to go back to basics, to the root of things. Literally, that’s what radical means—“of the root”—and the comic book Radical Jesus is designed to clear away in order to make the essentials more obvious. Radical Jesus explores Jesus’s teachings about social justice and the actions of Christians throughout the centuries who have tried to live out their faith in a way that makes the world a more just, loving, and peaceful place.
There is plenty here that is radical in the more common contemporary sense: defying the norm and disrupting business as usual, which is to some eyes extreme. Radical Jesus is full of characters who risk their lives for truth-telling, equality, and liberation.
Radical Jesus brings rich, thought-provoking stories from two millennia of church history together between its covers. It largely succeeds in forming a cohesive narrative of people in different times and locations who tried to live out the fullness of Jesus’s challenging, countercultural message. You will find gospel accounts of Jesus’s life here but also a parade of subsequent Christian activists for peace and justice: the religious radicals of Europe’s Middle Ages who protested church corruption and unjust taxation; the powerful abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth; members of Christian Peacemaker teams who provide solidarity and accompaniment to people in situations of struggle, conflict, and oppression around the world. Friends will recognize some names from our own history as well: John Woolman, Angelina Grimke, and Bayard Rustin.
The rich visuals make these accounts more engaging, accessible, and compelling, and, at times, they add a complexity of meaning as well. This is particularly true in the section that describes the life and teachings of Jesus, in which old, familiar (to many of us) words are often set against striking contemporary images. The beggar Lazarus extends an empty plastic cup as a rich man drives by, barely glancing out the window of his expensive car. The Beatitudes are illustrated with pictures of nonviolent protest, a family mourning for a young adult child, a hunger striker, a prison cell.
This fresh approach will add new dimensions of understanding for anyone who is familiar with the history of progressive Christian social movements. But more importantly, the disarming language and robust visual presentation are likely to make this book appealing to readers who might not otherwise seek out these stories, including youth in middle school or older. Religious educators in need of new stories to teach and discuss will find this book to be an excellent resource for understanding some of the roots of faith-based struggle in the Christian tradition, and seeking challenging connections between those stories and our lives today.
There is much in these pages to inspire, educate, enrich, and provoke readers of many ages and backgrounds. I hope that Friends will buy this book and put it into our personal and shared libraries and into the hands of our young people, embracing the real possibility that they might do something radical as a result.
Kody Hersh serves as the youth programs assistant for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and as a First-day school teacher for high schoolers.
A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King Jr. for Students
By Martin Luther King Jr. Beacon Press, 2013. 272 pages. $25.75/hardcover; $14/paperback or eBook. Recommended for ages 14–17.
Reviewed by David Austin
One of the many lessons of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., during the summer of 2014 is this situation finally gave the lie to the notion that we are living in a post-racial America. If anything, it seems that we Americans are more divided over issues related to race than we have been in at least a generation. The so-called War on Drugs; the mass incarceration of young men of color; the militarization of our police forces and the adversarial relationship between those police departments and minority communities; the well-funded and highly organized attacks on voting rights; and the election of our first black President, and the race-based attacks on him, have all contributed to this increasingly angry national divide. As I frequently remind my students, my post-baby boomer generation has left a huge mess for them to clean up as they enter adulthood, and not many tools with which to execute that clean-up.
That is why this recent collection for young adults of the writings of Martin Luther King Jr. is so timely and so very important.
This concise selection of King’s works is divided into six sections: “Love and Faith,” “Nonviolent Resistance,” “Consequences of War,” “Young People Working for Justice,” “The Power of Freedom,” and “Suffering and Hope for the Future.” It contains pieces that most young adults will already be familiar with from their classroom textbooks, most notably “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and, of course, the immortal “I Have a Dream” speech. But the book also includes pieces which are not nearly as well-known or widely published but still carry a serious (nonviolent) punch. These include “The Sword That Heals,” “The Drum Major Instinct,” and “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” The two essays which address the Vietnam War still have resonance today: simply think Iraq and our nation’s seemingly endless adventures in southwest Asia.
The book includes an excellent introduction by the late, great Walter Dean Myers, who connects his own coming of age during the 1950s and ’60s to the words of King. The target audience of this collection will no doubt be familiar with the many fine works of Myers, and his deeply personal essay gives historical and personal context to these writings.
Each essay or speech is followed by a set of reflection questions, and a teacher’s guide and curriculum are available online. The text would make an excellent addition to any school or meeting library and could also provide the basis for a very exciting multi-session, intergenerational First-day school program.