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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Shake the World

By Ginger Young, Founder and Executive Director

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

The world has been gently shaken by heroes in my midst.

I witnessed these heroes up close this past week. Though gentle, they are powerfully sparking the vast potential within young people — helping that potential take root and take off. And I can’t wait to tell you about them.

Taquoia Street, a mom who joined our Book Babies program with her newborn, Jade, in 2013, sat down with the Book Harvest team for lunch and shared a program she ran this summer to tackle summer learning loss for Jade, now a first grader, and five of her friends (Jade now proudly calls her mom “Teacher-Mommy”). Taquoia told me:

The Book Babies program left such a huge impact on me with being a new parent and not really understanding child development. Through the program I received a ton of resources to help with each stage as Jade was growing. I wanted to “pay it forward” by giving other children in the community a chance to learn with Jade this summer with a program that I designed.

You can learn more about Taquoia’s work to ignite summer learning among a very special group of rising first graders here.

Niccolo Roditti, our very own Wash & Learn Durham storytime leader, shook the world this past Saturday when our laundry literacy collaboration with a new location of The Wash House kicked off. It was a busy day: 549 books were harvested by children and 13,410 pounds of laundry were washed (that’s 745 loads!).

I watched in delight as small children who had gotten to know Niccolo at his storytimes at other locations came up to him to share hugs and high fives.  Clearly, he had established a bond with these children – and was sparking their potential in gentle ways. (Among them was three-year-old Eli, featured in this News & Observer article, sporting a t-shirt proclaiming I AM THE FUTURE. You sure are, Eli, and that future looks bright!).

Niccolo and our Community Partnerships Manager Nadiah Porter give me hope that we can, together, transform informal learning spaces such as laundromats into a new third space, alongside home and school, that provides educational enrichment for children in our community (and across the country). I believe that Durham is leading the way in this exciting work.

I am humbled and inspired by Niccolo and Taquoia and others who work tirelessly to ignite children’s potential – among them, the many, many parents who end each day with a bedtime story with their child, sparking imagination, vocabulary, and social-emotional skills. These are the gentle heroes in our midst. And they are helping forge a bright future for the next generation – and for all of us.

Do you know of a gentle hero working to spark a child’s literacy and potential? Please email me and let me know!

Check out all the great photos below from our Wash & Learn Durham celebration on Saturday! We were delighted to have so many community members join us, among them Durham County Commissioners Heidi Carter and Ellen Reckhow; Edmund Lewis from My Brother’s Keeper Durham; Brittany Gregory from Durham’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; and Social Justice Storytime Founder Jessica Hulick. Did you take photos you’d like to share? Email them to


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