F.S. Key students receive books, workshop from children’s author

The donated books were chosen in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and were personalized and signed by participants at the XPoNential Music Festival earlier this year.

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Children’s author Elizabeth Suneby conducts a workshop with students from Francis Scott Key School in Lower Moyamensing.| Photo by Tom Beck

Representatives from Subaru of America and the School District of Philadelphia were on hand at Francis Scott Key School in Lower Moyamensing last Thursday morning to witness the first of 2,000 books being donated by the Japanese car company’s Subaru Loves Learning Initiative. The donated books were chosen in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and were personalized and signed by participants at 88.5 WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival earlier this year. 

“Part of this big initiative we have nationally called The Subaru Love Promise,” said Jonathan Rivard, regional marketing manager of Subaru of America’s Eastern Region. “We’re a company, but we want to do good for the community. We really want to give back to the community to the people who live and work in the areas where we sell cars. The Love Promise is really a program where we work with all of our retailers across the country to do that – to give back to the community and be good global citizens.”

Along with Francis Scott Key School, the books were donated to 16 other schools across the city. Rivard told SPR that it was important to donate the books because only seven public schools in the School District of Philadelphia have functioning libraries with librarians. This was confirmed by the school district’s spokesperson, Imahni Moise.

Following the donation, children’s author Elizabeth Suneby conducted a workshop with some students from Francis Scott Key Elementary School, using her most recent book, Iqbal and His Ingenious Idea, as a springboard. The book won the 2019 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books and was featured on NBC’s Today Show. The book, like all of Suneby’s books, focuses on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math. More specifically, it focuses on the international issue of cooking using the utilization of open flames, which is an issue in numerous undeveloped countries all over the world. In Suneby’s book, the main character, Iqbal, and his mother and baby sister – all of whom hail from Bangladesh – make their food on an open flame. They’re often forced to move the flame indoors during monsoon season, forcing Iqbal’s mother and sister to breathe in smoke from the fire. As a result, Iqbal, who recently learned about sustainable energy at school, learns how to design a stove that doesn’t produce smoke.

“What was really important to me was to write about something that is an issue for the world that most people don’t realize,” Suneby told SPR. “Everyone knows a lot about other environmental issues but did you know that 3 billion people cook over open flames? I didn’t.”

In addition to being a children’s author, Suneby told the Review that she has previously worked with the United Nations’ Clean Cooking Alliance, which is an organization that helps to make clean cooking more accessible to the 3 billion people around the world who live without it.

“Bangladesh is one of the biggest problem areas because they have those monsoons and in monsoon season they have to bring the fires inside, so they’re in these small homes,” she said. “You’re breathing in all that smoke and then they have babies with them so there’s a huge issue with maternal health and childbirth. It also disempowers women because they have to go collect the wood, they’re not going to school.”