Literacy awareness in South Ozone, Queens was highlighted at a Book Party organized by Assembly District 31 District Leader, Richard David, in conjunction with Congressman Gregory Meeks, Council Members Eric Ulrich, Donovan Richards, and more than a dozen community organizations and featured two award-winning authors.
The event, attended by young adults and their families, drew attention and the urgency to the low literacy rates among young people, during the session at “The Figure Studio” in Ozone Park, recently.
Delicia Davis, author of “Dear Diary, I’m Not Feeling Myself,” shared her personal struggles as a woman of color who was criticized for her body image. She expressed how writing this book allowed her to overcome the ordeal.
Her conversation focused on improving the body image, building confidence in young women and addressing bullying among teenagers, while reflecting on the themes in her book.
“Improving confidence, self esteem and discussing mental health with young people, are extremely important topics. This is why I truly appreciate our District Leader, Richard David for organizing the Book Party,” said the author.
Imam Baksh, a two-time winner of the prestigious Burt Prize for Caribbean Literature, also launched his latest book, “The Dark of the Sea.”
During his presentation, Baksh spoke of the importance of young people seeing themselves in books and in fantasy novels like the ones he writes, and this is why the Mermaid City in his book is run by dark skinned and dark hair mermaids who are depicted as flawed and constantly fighting to overcome evils within their own society rather than perfect heroes.
“I love events like this where I can put my writing before young people and see them respond and start a conversation with my stories,” said Baksh.
Young people were encouraged to seek out books that they can fall in love with in the fall season, since it is the gateway to reading and improving literacy season.
Nadira Beepart, a student at Baruch College, art entrepreneur and mentee of Richard David, and moderator of the event, said, “I don’t think I read a complete book by choice until high school. My mom’s boss bought me the Harry Potter series, which was popular so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.” The author said that he quickly became engrossed in the series, waking up late at nights wanting to find out what would happen next to Harry and his friends.
“This opened the doorway for me to find more books and authors to get into and to improve my English, both written and verbal,” said the young college student.
David thanked the Figure Studio — a South Ozone Park resource center that focuses on improving health, wellness and creating positive body images for women in the neighborhood.
Friends of Brookville Park, one of the co-sponsors, gave away free books including some best sellers.
The organization recently opened a free little library that distributes books at Brookville Park.
Other partners included the NAACP of Jamaica, the Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Assembly District 31 Democratic Club, Our Neighbors of Ozone Park Civic Association, Baisley Pond Park Block Association, and the Jahajee Sisters.
According to David, in 2019, English proficiency rates among eighth graders, was 50 percent and that number dropped to less than 35 percent among African American students.