Richmond Tales Causes Outbreak of “Reading Fever”

Verde Elementary students track Maisha and Mario’s time travels

By Tasion Kwamilele

What makes a great book?  Some would say it’s the plot. Others would argue it’s the affect it has on its readers. From the captivating art work to the well crafted story line, Summer Brenner’s Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle, has sparked and outbreak of “reading-fever” in the Richmond community because the storyline gives readers a ticket to ride backward and forward in time.
Richmond Tales portrays two Richmond youth, Maisha and Mario, who journey back into a simpler place in time, into the Richmond of 1914 and in 1942 when the city experienced its phenomenal growth during World War II. The book allows the readers to “trip forward” too, with the two youth, to the year 2050, to uncover the futuristic digital world.
Lanre Ajayi, who served as principal for the summer school at Verde Elementary School, incorporated the book into the curriculum.   Ajayi says the students and parents both were excited about the book and its companion workbook.
“The book gave students the opportunity to read about Richmond in a different light. The reading levels improved because the students wanted to read more and more. Parents were involved and made it a part of their family time to sit down and read the book with their child,” said Ajayi.
She said the school held an assembly entitled “Heritage” which gave the students, like the book’s characters, an opportunity to reflect on the history of Richmond, its current condition and how each student planned to contribute to their city in the future. “I loved the book. It inspired me to make the world a better place,” said 4th grader, Luzbedi Morales.
While the book can be purchased online, Richmond business including the Richmond Museum of History and the Richmond Chamber of Commerce have also joined in supporting the book.
“This is a great book because it shows that there actually is something great in the city of Richmond. People come back and buy extra copies and it makes a great Christmas book,” said Judy Morgan, president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. “We’re even selling it at this year’s Richmond Chamber Holiday Mixer”.
All proceeds of the book, which was published in 2009, benefit West Country Reads, a coalition of libraries and literacy advocates that give away thousands of books each year to West Contra Costa County families.