On October 9, 2012, Skylar Sasson traveled to P.S. 171 in East Harlem, New York City to read her book, I Always Dreamed of Having a Store, to a group of 30 fourth and fifth graders in the GOAL after school program. GOAL (Giving Open Access to Learning) is a NYC-based nonprofit that provides structured educational and motivational programs for kids in underserved NY communities. As a student-centered after school program, GOAL represents an early intervention strategy that helps these children succeed in school in order to obtain greater opportunities.
Because the message of I Always Dreamed of Having a Store so fully connects with that of GOAL, Skylar’s hour with these students made a truly exciting impact. GOAL students were utterly impressed that Lucy, the protagonist of I Always Dreamed of Having a Store, traveled by herself — at their age of ten — to a new city to work to make money for herself and her family. They were also thrilled that Skylar could speak, write and read Spanish –especially as the vast majority of their families derive from Spanish-speaking countries like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Students were very eager to learn about Bolivia’s weather and landscape, laughing at the number of animals Skylar was able to see in the Bolivian countryside. They marveled at the Bolivian handicrafts Skylar brought, including a woven bag with cholitas and earrings made from leaves of the jacaranda tree. Among other lessons, the GOAL students walked away repeating ja-ca-randa, ja-ca-randa with giggles and smiles.