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World-Renowned Illustrator E. B. Lewis Encourages West Philadelphia Students to Find Strength in Their Talents

 Philadelphia-born artist headlines second Library Café literacy enrichment event hosted by West Philadelphia Alliance for Children

PHILADELPHIA, November 17, 2016 – Philadelphia-born children’s book illustrator E. B. Lewis motivated West Philadelphia elementary schoolchildren to find strength in their talents as they pursue their dreams. Lewis, who calls himself an “artistrator,” spoke to several hundred students today at the Edward Heston School library operated by the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (also known as WePAC).

Lewis recounted his experience as a Philadelphia student coping with dyslexia and struggling with attention. “I was you,” he told a wiggly first grader at the back of the room whose engagement increased after being reseated in front of the special guest. Lewis shared his early inclination to seek attention and acceptance by expressing interest in becoming a lawyer despite the fact that wasn’t his passion.  When Lewis decided to pursue his love of art, for which he showed an early talent, he blossomed into the in-demand and highly respected children’s book illustrator he is today.

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Lewis’ visit was the second in a series of Library Café events to be hosted this academic year across Philadelphia schools by WePAC.  This new series aims to use guest speakers and readers to expose children to new ideas and possibilities by tying together real world experiences with literature. WePAC volunteers have been reading stories illustrated by Lewis to Heston students during every library period leading up to today’s special event.

Lewis also explained to students the process of making a book, from manuscript development to editing to illustration. He choose students from the audience to demonstrate how he coaches models for his illustrations. “Experiences like today’s Library Café visit from E. B. Lewis really make an impression on students,” said  WePAC Executive Director Heather Farber. “There’s a story behind every illustration, a story behind every illustrator. The children can now see that.”

WePAC plans to bring the Library Café to each of the 14 public elementary schools it is working with this school year.  Last month Councilwoman Blackwell visited the Henry C. Lea School for an election-themed Library Café event. Soon WePAC will host financial literacy-themed events at several of its libraries.

WePAC is a nonprofit organization bringing the joy of reading back to schools by operating volunteer-run school library programs. WePAC is the only organization in Philadelphia working systematically to re-open closed libraries and bring library programming back to schools. The vast majority of Philadelphia public schools lack a functioning library.

Lewis has illustrated more than 70 children’s books including Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman; ALA Notable Book Down the Road; and ALA Notable Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book My Rows and Piles of Coins.


About WePAC

Established during the 2003-2004 school year as an outgrowth of a suburban/urban outreach project between Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and many civic groups, the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) today is a wholly-independent and non-sectarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. After the School District of Philadelphia began closing school libraries in a drastic attempt to address the widening budget gap, the current face of WePAC was born, stepping in with library and literacy programming. Since 2009, WePAC has re-opened and operated volunteer-run libraries in Philadelphia public schools. In the 2016-2017 academic year, WePAC will run libraries in 14 schools as well as a one-on-one literacy mentoring program, Library Buddies, in several schools. Volunteer inquiries can be made to volunteer@wepac.org. Donations may be addressed to “WePAC” at 5070 Parkside Avenue, Suite 1414, Philadelphia, PA 19131. Individuals interested in being a WePAC Library Café guest reader may inquire with Heather Farber, Executive Director (heather@wepac.org).

Press Contact

Name:  Heather Farber

Mobile:  484-716-7776

Email:  heather@wepac.org