Anne Sibley O’Brien has published 38 children’s books and has been involved in antiracism and diversity education for more than 40 years. PHOTO COURTESY OF IRW

IRW launches virtual book-centered programs

SOUTHWEST HARBORIsland Readers & Writers (IRW) kicks off a new slate of free, book-centered virtual programs beginning Monday, April 19, with a pre-K story hour.  

IRW program assistant Lisa Herrington will start off with Friends Over Books, a six-week series of story time and hands-on activities for children ages 3-5, which will meet every Monday and Wednesday from 9:30-10 a.m.  

Kimberly Ridley, author of “The Secret Pool,” will lead participants of all ages in a virtual exploration of vernal pools at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 21. Participants will learn about the wonders of these seasonal wetlands, their inhabitants and where to find them. Ridley is a science writer, essayist, editor and children’s book author who has been writing about nature, science, health and the environment for more than 25 years. 

The Art of the Picture Book with IRW Director of School Programs Alison Johnson begins its six-week series from 4-5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21. Teachers, educators, librarians and anyone interested in learning more about picture books are invited to join. Johnson will take participants through the complex elements of a picture book, from text to pictures, and other hidden gems between a book’s covers.  

On Wednesday, April 28, from 3:30-4:30 p.m., author-illustrator and diversity advocate Anne Sibley O’Brien will offer a professional development workshop titled Books as Bridges: Using Racially and Culturally Diverse Books in the Classroom. She will provide an overview of research on how children develop racial/cultural identities, the impact of diverse books and strategies for identifying quality books and using them effectively. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session and exploration of the challenges, solutions, booklists and resources to support teachers and librarians in applying this knowledge to their own libraries.  

O’Brien has published 38 children’s books and has been involved in antiracism and diversity education for more than 40 years. She is the co-founder of two Maine-based projects featuring diverse children’s literature: I’m Your Neighbor Books and the Diverse Book Finder. 

“We are excited to offer these terrific programs to a broader audience of educators and book lovers of all ages through our revamped website,” said IRW Executive Director Jan Coates.  

Space is limited for all of IRW’s free virtual programs and pre-registration is requiredFor more detailed information about each program and to register, visit or contact [email protected]. 

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