Brooklyn, NY – May 19, 2020 – Jessica Ralli, the coordinator of Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) early literacy programs, has been named a 2020 Mover and Shaker by the Library Journal. The award recognizes emerging leaders and innovators from around the world who are moving libraries forward for the next generation.
Ralli was the driving force behind Backpacks from Brooklyn—a 2018 program which provided 400 backpacks filled with books, art materials and other resources in English and in Spanish—to children who were separated from their families at the border and endured long wait times during legal proceedings in court. The next year, Ralli was able to send another 350 backpacks with support from Urban Librarians Unite, New York City Council’s City’s First Readers and the Robin Hood Foundation to organizations like Kids in Need of Defense. Although COVID 19 interrupted the current drive, Ralli hopes to keep the project going for the long term with grant funding.
In addition, Ralli organizes both the in-person and virtual Ready Set Kindergarten, a series for families designed to encourage the development of early learning practices. Ready, Set, Kindergarten is a program of BPL's First Five Years initiative, supported by generous funding from the Brooklyn Eagles, the Pinkerton Foundation and New York City Council as part of the City's First Readers program.
“I want to take a moment to recognize and congratulate Jessica for being honored as a 2020 Mover and Shaker by the Library Journal for her commitment to helping children and their families access books and other materials to help encourage the development of early literacy practices,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “This is exactly what City's First Reader's was created to achieve and thanks to people like Jessica, we are seeing great progress and growth among our target audiences of children 0-5 years old and their parents.”
The program takes place over six sessions, during which families explore literacy, science and math through music, stories, art and play, helping the child get ready for school.
Ralli has also organized the popular Big Brooklyn Playdate designed to help children, ages 0 to 3, have constructive play opportunities.
“Congratulations to Jessica Ralli, coordinator of the Brooklyn Public Library's early literacy programs, on being named a 2020 Mover and Shaker by the Library Journal!” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “As a Council Member who represents several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, I am grateful to Ralli for her work to increase access to literacy for young Brooklynites, including the youth of District 34. By spearheading initiatives like Backpacks from Brooklyn, Ready Set Kindergarten, and Big Brooklyn Playdate, Ralli has done tremendous work to expand access to the power of reading. This designation is well deserved!”
Furthermore, Ralli coordinates the library’s extensive multilingual storytime program offering stories for toddlers in as many 12 languages, many of which have gone virtual over the last two months.
"I am so honored to be named a 2020 Mover and Shaker by Library Journal! Some of my most inspiring colleagues at BPL have been past Movers and Shakers and I am beyond excited to be a part of this esteemed group. Being recognized as an advocate by my colleagues and peers means a lot to me. I feel very fortunate to be able to do the work that I do, and serve the communities we serve, and especially to be so supported by my own institution and the library world at large," Ralli said.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.6 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.