Children from Washington Heights and the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx are in for a special treat this year: 2,000 children from Pre-K to fifth grade will be receiving, as a gift, a copy of Bronx Children's Museum’s first children's book, “The Lowdown on the High Bridge,” written by Bronx native and “Sesame Street” actress Sonia Manzano. As part of the release, a select group of Washington Heights first graders at P.S. 173 were honored with a private reading of the book by Sonia Manzano herself on June 15.
Approximately 75 first grade students were in attendance for the reading, which was followed by a short question and answer session and a photo opportunity with the author.
“How long did it take you to write the book?” one student asked. “It didn't take me too long to write the book, only two to three weeks,” Manzano answered. “How come you don't write as fast as me?” the same student responded. “I guess I’m just not as good as you are!” the author quipped.
The book was donated in June 2015 by the Bronx Children’s Museum as a present to 3,300 Pre-K to third graders attending eight Highbridge schools where the Museum has been operating its popular Little Friends of the High Bridge program over the past three years, teaching area children about the Harlem River and the history of the High Bridge. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently purchased copies of the book to distribute to an additional 2,000 children who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the bridge. The books were distributed this spring to Pre-K and Kindergarten children at five schools in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, and to Pre-K to fifth grade students at 22 schools in the Washington Heights area.
“I was raised in the Bronx, but I've lived in Manhattan for years,” Manzano said. “I’m delighted to see kids from both sides of the bridge, from the Bronx AND Manhattan, learning about this beautiful shared space that played such an important part in the history of New York City.”
“We’ve had a very positive response from readers about our first children's book publication,” said Bronx Children's Museum Executive Director Carla Precht. “It shows that the topics of home and neighborhood really resonate with kids. Teachers are using the book in their classrooms, and community organizations are using the book as part of their reading program. We're excited that the DEP has opened up this wonderful opportunity to even more New York City children.”
As Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Eric Landau said, “New York City’s high-quality drinking water is an essential resource for more than 10 million people, and we work hard to foster an appreciation and understanding of all the work and planning it takes to protect the water and deliver it to the city. We are proud to have partnered with the Bronx Children’s Museum and Sonia Manzano to distribute “The Lowdown on the High Bridge,” an engaging tool that will help to inspire the next generation of New Yorkers to learn more about their natural environment and to help protect it.”
In addition to “The Lowdown on the High Bridge,” Manzano also wrote an autobiography “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.” Intended for adults and older teenagers, further information about this book and Manzano’s retirement from “Sesame Street” is available in the October 2015 issue of OutlooK-12 Magazine (Click Here to View).