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Pennsylvania’s ‘One Book, Every Young Child’ Kicks Off

Read this year’s adorable selection, and find out where to celebrate this early childhood literacy program!

This month celebrates Pennsylvania’s “One Book, Every Young Child” initiative, which highlights the importance of early literacy development in young children. This program — now in its 13th year — is a statewide collaboration that plans out activities (both in the community and at-home) centered around a different preschool-level book each year.


This year’s “One Book” selection is author-illustrator Zachariah OHora’s My Cousin Momo, which kids will love for its colorful and quirky illustrations. (You’ll love for its message of inclusivity and friendship.)


In the book, a family of squirrels excitedly await their cousin’s visit, but are frustrated when he doesn’t play the same way they do: he can’t play hide-and-seek, he dresses up as “Muffin Man” when they want to play superheroes, and he won’t even fly despite the fact that he’s a flying squirrel! Feeling unaccepted, Momo tearfully begins to pack his things, but when his cousins decide to try things his way, they all learn that it’s fun to do things in new ways.


It’s a simple story, but it’s one with heart and a unique voice. And it doesn’t hurt that its author is a local favorite (OHora lives in Narberth) whose offbeat brand of art has delighted in the program’s past selection Stop Snoring, Bernard! You may even recognize his style in the PlayArts logo: that’s him too!


If you’d like to expand your child’s experience with Momo, “One Book” has created a wonderful guide of activities — from questions and games to science and engineering. Also in honor of the initiative, there will be events throughout the area, including opportunities to meet the author.


The Free Library of Philadelphia has storytimes all month long, so be sure to check their calendar to find one near you (and of course our events posts as well).


Most of the storytimes are in the morning, but if you’re looking for an evening one to fit your schedule, check out one of the special 6:30 pm Pajama Storytimes: on April 17 in West Philly and April 30 at the Torresdale branch. Other noteworthy storytimes include the Rosenbach’s “Museum Adventure” on April 26, and a special storytime at Philadelphia City Institute (also on April 26), where the School of Pennsylvania Ballet will present “Dance Me a Story,” using My Cousin Momo.


And mark your calendars for April 23, when OHora will visit Logan Library at 10 am and Lillian Marrero Library at 11 am.


Outside the city, there will also be a My Cousin Momo Party at Media-Upper Providence Free Library on April 27 with games, creative play, and goofy fun celebrating the book. There will also be the opportunity to meet OHora at Radnor Library on April 24, or party with him at Wissahickon Valley Public Library on the evening of April 26, where guests will come in pajamas to hear him read his book.


If you’d like to see more from OHora, you can visit the Fine Arts Center Gallery at Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus for “Welcome to Fuzzytown,” an exhibit of his artwork running from April 25 — July 7.


Photograph by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer