This week's New Yorker of the Week brings literacy to life, making words fly off the page for children around the city. John Schiumo filed the following report.
At P.S. 199 in Queens, words are coming to life.
Thanks to Barbara Zinn Krieger and her nonprofit arts program, "Making Books Sing," children across the five boroughs are improving their literacy through sound, smell and movement.
"So much of education today is about learning something from someone else and the creative part of you has to be put aside," Krieger says. "But when we come into the classroom we say, if it's what you feel then it's good."
Krieger started the program to introduce theater to young people by putting on plays and running workshops.
Their current production, "The Butterfly," tells the story of a friendship between two girls during World War II – one Jewish and one Catholic.
"It's important to be doing a story like 'The Butterfly' because unfortunately the same kind of prejudice is still around, and the same kind of problems that caused World War II are going on in other places," Krieger says.
In the classroom, the effect of the program is evident.
"It really helps the children to have a deeper understanding and a deeper comprehension of the books that they are reading," says P.S. 199 principal Anthony Inzerillo.
And the students agree.
"I like to do this everyday, because it shows off my talents," says one student.
"There's been a huge change in the students," says fourth grade teacher Kristin Stripe. "They get so excited. And even just speaking in front of a group of people, they develop confidence."
For Krieger, a life-long New Yorker, running the program has its benefits too.
"You don't grow old when you're working like this," she says. "Creativity and passion for creativity is wonderful, and if I can stir that up in children and have them believe in their ability, I feel very, very grateful that I can be a part of that."
And so for making books sing, Barbara Zinn Krieger is our New Yorker of the Week.