Art and literacy collaboration focuses on diversity and kindness

The Art Center of the Bluegrass is teaming up with The Gladys Project to provide free children’s books and literacy-based art projects for families this winter.

Starting this month, the Art Center will curate a project each week for 10 weeks that aligns with a children’s book. Families can pick up their free project kit from the Art Box – located in front of the Art Center building – on Tuesdays each week, starting at 11 a.m. Families who are receiving services from The Gladys Project are also eligible to receive a free copy of the book, along with a reading strategy parental guide.

The chosen books all celebrate diversity, kindness, and self-compassion and include “Not Quite Snow White” by Ashley Franklin, “I Am Enough” by Grace Byers, “Listening with My Heart” by Gabi Garcia – and many more.

Amy Adkins, Executive Director of The Gladys Project explains that children’s literature can be one of the best ways to teach young children about the importance of race, equality and diversity. She says, “Books give a look into the lives of children with different life experiences and how each child is unique in their own way.”

The Art Center designed an art project to accompany each book. Projects include paper dolls, torn paper collage, beaded friendship bracelets, handmade greeting cards, and decoupage birds.

Art Center Executive Director Niki Kinkade says that art projects help teach important kindergarten readiness skills. “Fine motor skills development is important for young children,” explains Kinkade. “Tearing paper, cutting with scissors, holding a paint brush, etc. All of those skills are important precursors to learning to hold and use a pencil and other classroom instruments.”

The Boyle-Mercer County Community Early Childhood Council is helping to fund the project. Pamela Hambrick, Council Chairperson, says, “The pandemic has made it difficult for us to host in-person programs for families. The Art Box outreach collaboration is a great way to safely support kindergarten readiness for young children by making projects available to do at home.”

Kinkade says that the Art Box has become an important tool for connection during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the Art Center to distribute more than 800 project kits since April of 2020.

Families who are interested in The Gladys Project program can contact Amy at 859-209-1618 or 859-536-5357 and receive a free copy too.