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A Book a Day, a children's literacy nonprofit, held a fundraiser at the LGBT Center on Oct. 2, 2022. Credit: Max Mester

Local children’s literacy nonprofit A Book a Day held a fundraiser at the Penn LGBT Center on Sunday.

Local families, members of the Penn community, and local authors attended the fundraiser, which took place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and featured a performance by the Stimulus Children's Theater, live readings, book-related crafts, and a silent auction. Children who attended had the opportunity to make buttons, mini books, and bookmarks at several craft tables.

A Book a Day is based in West Philadelphia and has been donating hardcover books to public school libraries in the area since 2014. Through the fundraiser, the organization worked to secure funding to provide book donations to the community and expand its other projects — like painting book-related murals in schools and creating resources for educators.

The LGBT Center has been partnering with A Book a Day since 2020. The Center has its own library and has been working to supplement A Book a Day's collection of LGBTQ children's books.

"It's been just a wonderful match that has benefited both organizations really well," LGBT Center Director Erin Cross said. “We're really excited … to be able to provide that space, and staffing and other things to make sure that this amazing organization keeps on going.”

The groups have also collaborated on a mural at Henry C. Lea School and on creating the online Archive of Letters and Voices.

"Our missions align perfectly and the way they have created for many years an inclusive space for everyone is something that was striking," Sibylla Shekerdjiska-Benatova, executive director of A Book a Day, added about the partnership with the LGBT Center.

A Book a Day has also partnered with the School of Dental Medicine through its Books for Smiles project in 2020. The organization has also previously worked on book donations with Penn Libraries and has prioritized working within the West Philadelphia community. 

"[The event] is really kind of bringing folks together from West Philly, from the LGBTQ+ community, and kind of parents and caregivers of all kinds together just to really … celebrate children's books, young adult books, and how important they are in our kids lives," Cross said.

Second-year graduate student at the School of Design Tanushree Chowdhary, who works as a designer at A Book a Day, told The Daily Pennsylvanian that she knows more about West Philadelphia since starting to work for the organization.

Many of A Book a Day's donation selections are informed by current events and the demographics of the West Philadelphia communities it serves. The organization aims to add books to school libraries that are often overlooked and to make sure students have access to materials they find truly engaging.

"Our books are checked out from school libraries that we donate to at a 60% higher rate than any other books they have," A Book a Day's assistant manager Erin Seifstad said.

When looking at themes in potential books and at the specific mediums of the books they donate, "We always try to be one step ahead of what's happening," Shekerdjiska-Benatova said.