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Giving the Gift of Reading: Howard University Hosts Virtual Family Reading Night

Children posing with books at Family Reading Night

WASHINGTON – Through the Office of the Dean of the Chapel, the Howard University Social Justice Tutors offers a virtual family reading night in partnership with The Conscious Kid, an education, research, and policy organization. The Conscious Kid provides complimentary books to support the efforts of the Social Justice Tutors’ work with families and educators in taking action to disrupt racism, inequity, and bias through literacy initiatives. 

This semester’s Virtual Family Reading Night featured Vashti Harrison, author, illustrator, and filmmaker, reading Matthew Cherry’s “Hair Love,” in which Harrison is the illustrator. After the reading, Harrison did a demonstration of how she illustrates images and shared samples of her other books. “It was amazing! My daughter was glued to the screen.” said Shedelyne Nicolas who joined from Pompano, Florida. “I really loved the reading of the book and the artist made it so lively. Seeing her draw those curls was also inspiring to me.” 

More than 100 families participated in the event, with each family receiving a copy of “Hair Love” along with a gift pack of multicultural children’s books for their home libraries. Additional book gift packs were given to students at the Howard University Middle School of Math and Science PCS, Howard University Early Learning Program as well as youth in local detention centers, courtesy of the Office of the Dean of the Chapel. 

“This virtual reading event allows for our students to have maximum impact on not only the Howard community, but the African diaspora at large. We have families tuning in from as far as the Caribbean,” said Nisa Muhammad, assistant dean of religious life in the Office of the Dean of the Chapel who serves as the advisor for the Social Justice Tutors. 

Past family reading night guest readers have included Howard University student leaders and offensive tackle, Charles Leno of the Washington Commanders, reading “Dear Black Boy” by Martellus Bennett

The readings are selected and facilitated by the Social Justice Tutors and the children they tutor.  The tutoring program was started during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a support to the Howard community by providing supplemental academic support to the children of Howard University students and employees. Since its inception, the tutoring program has expanded to providing support to students in local middle schools and youth detention centers. 

To learn more about the Social Justice Tutoring program or to sign up for the next Virtual Family Reading Night, contact the Office of the Dean of the Chapel at chapel@howard.edu or call 202-806-7280. 


About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu