We Are Shining

We Are Shining picture book cover by Gwendolyn Brooks and illustrated by Jan Spivey GilchristThroughout this year, Champaign County Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its 25th anniversary year.  As a part of the celebration, they led an Interfaith house build working with 23 houses of faith across the community – from Christian to Jewish to Muslim.  With the dedication for the two Interfaith build homes this past Sunday, I am struck by the gift of diversity this community offers – religious, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic.  Pulitzer prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks brings diversity alive in her newest book for children We Are Shining (2017).  Originally published as “A Little Girl’s Poem” in Very Young Poets (1983), the words express a young girl’s hope and belief in the future for herself and of children around the world.  Award-winning illustrator Jan Spivey Gilchrist echoes the young narrator’s exuberance through bright watercolors, beginning and ending with the girl’s expressive dance and detailing scenes from around the world.  While Gwendolyn Brooks is no longer with us (1917-2000), her words live on and offer us a chance to celebrate communities like ours and around the world.  Look for more words of inspiration from Gwendolyn Brooks throughout this 100th year celebration of her birthday.  - Elaine