The Inaugural Picnic Palabras, New York City

We are so proud because Picnic de Palabras is not only crossing frontiers but also languages. Reading is everywhere as magic, and only come true through people who believe. By: Emily Pellerin

On Sunday, July 26, we headed out to Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn, New York City to launch Picnic Palabras in the United States. There we found sno-cones, fountains, a skate park, a playground, and tons of (unknowingly!) eager kiddos, sated ith sno-cones, but craving a good story.

At the beginning opicnic ny 1f the summer, we began the search for the perfect park in which to host the U.S.’s first Picnic Palabras. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick presented us with an indisputably ideal spot — the lively, family-filled Maria Hernandez Park. Having Emilia from the Quito “chapter” of Picnic here in NYC this summer really got the ball rolling, and we’re proud to say that we finally launched the Brooklyn edition of Picnic Palabras this past Sunday, July 26!

The reception was incredible. Upon laying down mats and books, a pair of cousins immediately (though timidly) made their way over to check out what was going on. We invited them over, and Cole seemed to have made best friends with them within minutes. Others came over, as usually happens, once the pioneers sat down with books in hand. The crowd of children, which reflected pretty accurately the demographic of the park’s guests as a whole, was almost exclusively Hispanic. From what I gathered, the children were mostly, if not all, bilingual. There were some older kids (pre-teenagers, maybe) and a few preschool aged kiddos, though the majority of stoppers-by were elementary aged.

Picnic NY 2

Armed with the suggestions of other Picnic Palabras volunteers, we were able to source a diverse (thematically, difficulty-wise, and linguistically) selection of books that the kids seemed to be very excited about. Some enjoyed being read to, and others reading to themselves or to one another. (Curious George made quite the rounds!)

Though we didn’t interact much with parents, we liberally let the readers know that we’d be back in a month. Many of the kids were reticent (which I would consider natural for young kids in new situations) but their appreciation of the event was nonetheless discernible.

The most reassuring commentary came from a young boy who asked us how long we would be in the park with the books. When we told him only two hours, he looked up, concerned, and replied, “That’s all?” His discontent with the fleeting “library” was heartening, and spoke to the general enthusiasm for the project that we hope, and which I feel was evidenced, each of the children in attendance had felt.

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