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Family celebration of Black History Month

February 23, 2002

Laura Sturza

HILLSIDE DISTRICT -- As a boy, Martin Luther King, Jr. had much in

common with the children at the Central Library's Black History Month

celebration Thursday.

Families filled the children's room to hear Burbank resident Robin

McClamb-Vaughn read from "Martin's Big Words." The book by Doreen

Rappaport features King as a boy who dreamed of growing up to use "big

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words" like "freedom, peace and love."

Children brought the story to life when McClamb-Vaughn invited them to

enact characters from the book including riders on a bus and people

marching during a civil-rights event.

McClamb-Vaughn led the children in making their own memory scrapbooks

from brown paper bags decorated with construction paper, markers and

glitter. The storyteller encouraged the children to fill these books with

their own folk tales based on their family history.

Teacher Carol Brown, from a New Jersey elementary school that hosted

McClamb-Vaughn at a Black History event, said she helped the 3- and

4-year-olds to view history with fresh eyes and made it fun for them.

Teachers were able to weave the experience into studies for several days

after the workshop, Brown said.

"The teachers were delighted and she got the kids involved in it,"

Brown said. "These were very young children, so there's a certain

attention span that you have to concern yourself with."

The Howard University graduate, who has worked in television and

off-Broadway, started her Books Alive program after observing her

daughter's first-grade class.

"I saw that many children were having trouble with literacy,"

McClamb-Vaughn said. "I found the more that the story was brought to life

for them and the more they became involved in the world of the story, the

more interested they became in reading."

For more information about Books Alive, call 569-3034.

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