Tips for Creating a Nutritious Diet in the New Year

The New Year is a great opportunity to create new habits and start eating right. Maria Biondi, RDN, CDN, Wellbeing Coach for NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, suggests the following tips for a nutritious diet and a healthy year ahead.

“As folks look towards the New Year, many of them want a fresh start and to live a healthier lifestyle,” says Biondi. “It’s great that people become excited about their health during this time of the year, and we want to make sure they have good nutrition all year round.”

1. Eat as natural as possible.
Try to choose foods that come from the earth. This seems like a simple rule, but it actually eliminates most foods we eat every day. Cookies, ice cream, and even most granola bars have hidden food additives and added sugars. If possible, try whole foods with little added ingredients. You can try swapping processed food for nuts and a whole fruit as a healthy snack.

2. Eat breakfast.
Breakfast gives you energy and is a great way to begin your day, by starting your metabolism and blood sugar on the right track. In fact, it has been proven that skipping breakfast can put you at higher risk for heart disease, high blood sugar, and a slower metabolism. Whether it’s a quick whole wheat toast with nut butter or avocado, hard boiled eggs, or instant oatmeal, make sure to eat a nutrient-dense breakfast to start your day right.

3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Going long periods of time without eating may slow down your metabolism. A study conducted by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that those who ate six smaller meals throughout the day had better weight loss results than those who ate three larger meals.

4. Switch to whole grains.
Brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa in moderation are great for keeping you full and curbing your sugar cravings. Try swapping out white bread for a whole grain option, as white breads contain less fiber and may have processed sugars and preservatives to keep them on the shelves longer.

5. Spice it up.
For generations, herbs and spices were used to treat various illnesses and ailments in cultures around the world. Today, spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are recommended to help your body fight inflammation, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. They can also add great flavor to your dish!

6. Mind your gut health.
Our digestive system is filled with good bacteria that helps us fight off disease. Fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics are great ways to improve our gut health. Foods that provide these helpful bacteria include Greek yogurt with a banana, oatmeal, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles.

7. Drink more water (not your calories).
Drinking high-sugar fruit juices and sports drinks can be detrimental to your diet. This can also be true for coffees with creamers and added sugar. Water is zero calories, zero sugar, and keeps you hydrated throughout the day. On average, it is recommended to consume at least eight cups of water daily. Try a refreshing seltzer or fruit-infused water to add some natural flavor to your drink.

8. Be mindful of your alcohol intake.
If you are watching your weight, avoiding or decreasing your alcohol intake can help. For example, mixed drinks are filled with sugary juices. On average, beer can be 155 calories per serving and could contain as many carbohydrates as multiple slices of white bread.

9. Find your balance.
Many diets claim eating less of something is the key to achieving results. However, you should not deprive yourself of any macronutrients like carbohydrates, fat, or protein. The key is to find the right proportions for you. A Stanford University study concluded that an effective weight loss strategy is to eat less sugar and refined flour, and instead choose more vegetables and whole foods such as whole grains, low-fat dairy, and fruits.

10. Remember to get a good night’s rest.
Getting a good night’s sleep may help you feel more rested and make healthier choices the following day. Try to set a time for yourself to prepare for bed and aim for a goal of eight hours of sleep.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, located in Flushing, New York, is a community teaching hospital affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine, serving Queens and metro New York residents. The 535-bed tertiary care facility provides services in 14 clinical departments and numerous subspecialties. Annually, 15,000 surgeries and 4,000 infant deliveries are performed at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. With its network of affiliated primary and multispecialty care physician practices and communitybased health centers, the hospital provides approximately 162,000 ambulatory care visits and 124,000 emergency service visits annually. For more information, visit

Jason Reynolds

Congratulations to Jason Reynolds, the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature! In honor of this wonderful new appointment for Jason, here is our story about his 2018 visit to Queens, from the May/June 2018 issue of Queens Library Magazine.

Jason Reynolds wants reluctant readers to know he’s less concerned that they need to understand literature, and more concerned that they can navigate life. “I don’t want you to lead a reluctant life. In order for you not to live a reluctant life, you need to be able to engage with language.”

Reynolds recently spoke to two schools in the South Jamaica community, sharing his life story and how he became a children’s book author. He described his life changing forever at age ten when he purchased a Queen Latifah cassette. From then on, he began writing poetry—lyrics without music—and he continued doing so for twenty years.

While he was growing up, Reynolds avoided libraries, places where he could not have fun. But today, he describes his relationship with libraries as a partnership: “I make the work. But that work needs to live somewhere. It needs to be somewhere.”

Reynolds describes coming to understand that librarians were like tour guides, who could help him navigate the daunting world by showing him where he could go with just a few keywords.

He explained that librarians can show you everything you are looking for and need to see if you provide them with keywords. And to Reynolds, that kind of guidance is everything we are all looking for, whether in a librarian, a parent, or a teacher.

He reveals that the secret to writing books that aren’t boring is “to start your books a chapter late and end your books a chapter early.” What that does is drop your reader right in the middle of the problem and end the book right in a cliffhanger. “That infuriates people, but it drives the desire for reading.” In his opinion, “the best writing is the writing that is not overly descriptive but instead uses the characters to expose the world around them through context. To me that’s sophisticated and that’s not boring.”

Reading, he has said, can be a conduit to wholeness. He talks about how reading gives people permission to be uncertain when they see characters being that way—and about the secrets that are shared between reader and protagonist on the page.

Jason Reynolds talks with students.

In his book When I Was The Greatest, “I’m bearing witness to your insecurities as you bear witness to the protagonist and in that we create relationship and bond. That is whole. That is creating more of a whole person. Sometimes that empathy has to do with empathy of self. Are you willing to forgive yourself and be who you actually are and accept yourself for who you actually are, because the people in this book do? They can make you feel less alone and more whole.” For Reynolds, there was only one book that got through to him as a young person—Richard Wright’s Black Boy.

Reading can also make us emotionally strong, as we experience the world without actually having to experience it and through that we develop empathy. “When I read a book about triumph and diligence and persistence, all it does is remind me of my own capabilities.”

Yet Reynolds is an advocate of reading anything—not just novels—to develop as a person. He jokes that a lot of brilliant people don’t read novels, saying he doesn’t believe Neil deGrasse Tyson does, but that he’s still one of the smartest and most empathetic people in the world. “I don’t care what you read,” he says. Reynolds feels that reading a novel is not the only way to read; that you can read about anything that interests you, whether that be video games manuals or sports blogs.

If he could impart one life lesson to his readers, he’d remind them that excellence is a conscious habit, a decision one has to make. If you’re going to do something, says Reynolds, you might as well be excellent at it.

This author talk was part of the South Jamaica Reads program and was made possible through generous funding from The Pinkerton Foundation.

Bottom picture: Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott talks with Jason Reynolds at Central Library.

QPL President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott talks with Jason Reynolds at Central Library.
Shape Up at the Library

Now that the holidays (and holiday eating) are over, a new year brings New Year’s resolutions. For many of us, that means regular exercise—whether it’s to lose weight, build stamina, or just improve our health overall.

Many people can’t afford gyms and health clubs, or may not have one close by. But if you need a way to take interesting, fun, and free exercise classes this year, visit your local library!

As part of our Health & Wellness program at Queens Public Library, we offer several classes in partnership with Shape Up NYC, including yoga, Zumba, dance fitness, chair aerobics, and more!

Shape Up NYC is the city’s free, drop-in fitness program with locations across the five boroughs, including several QPL branches. These classes are often created specifically for beginners or people who are less mobile, and there is no class registration—all you need is a towel, a bottle of water, and your enthusiasm!

Last year, we offered nearly 20 types of classes with dedicated Shape Up NYC instructors, and we look forward to scheduling even more this year.

“Our partnership with Shape Up NYC is an important opportunity for our Queens communities to take charge of their health on an ongoing basis, so that it becomes a regular part of their daily routine,” says Doris Jones from QPL’s Programs and Services Department. “Shape Up has a variety of exercise formats designed to match your particular comfort level. No matter when you decide to make that change to a healthier you, Queens Public Library and Shape Up are here to help you for free!”

You can find a schedule of all our Shape Up NYC classes, along with listings of our other exercise programs, health lectures and workshops, and more on the QPL website and in the Events section of Queens Public Library Magazine.

Good luck and visit the Library to get in shape this year!

Taking a Kindness Selfie at Seaside Library.

Taking a Kindness Selfie at Seaside Library!

This past November and December, Queens Public Library celebrated our second annual It’s Time for Kind campaign, with special programs, events, and activities at every QPL location.

Thanks to your generosity, our system-wide food drive in partnership with Food Bank For New York City collected 8,400 pounds of canned goods to help feed our neighbors during the holiday season. That's 4.2 tons of kindness, and almost double the amount we collected last year!

Our unique events included an evening of conversation and healing with Korey Wise of the exonerated Central Park Five; film screenings and talks connected to our Jewish Refugees in Shanghai exhibit, which told the story of the Chinese communities that offered sanctuary to Jewish refugees during World War II; and storytimes for children across the borough featuring books about kindness.

Library customers of all ages produced kindness chains and other crafts that we displayed in our branches. Our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students made holiday cards to send to our homebound Mail-a-Book customers. We held letter-writing campaigns for troops overseas and veterans here at home. Children and adults took home bookmarks encouraging acts of kindness, and they created books to express their gratitude for people in their lives. Visitors to our branches left stories of kindness on our Kindness Walls and posted online to our Digital Kindness Wall too!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for It’s Time for Kind and helped us show that kindness is a language that we all can speak, both during the holidays and every single day.

It’s Time for Kind 2019

Clockwise from top left: Korey Wise of the exonerated Central Park Five with QPL Hip Hop Coordinator Ralph McDaniels; our customers left stories of kindness on our Kindness Walls across the borough; Glen Oaks Library collected over 160 holiday cards from their customers to send to local veterans and troops overseas; some of the cards made for the homebound by our ESOL students.

Court Square Library

Court Square Library, located at 25-01 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, will be closed starting on Saturday, February 15 at 5pm.

We have enjoyed serving you at this location over the past 30 years and look forward to seeing you again when we open a new location in the neighborhood.

Mobile library service will be provided on Mondays from 10am to 5pm, starting Monday, February 24, 2020, in front of the Court House at Jackson Avenue and Court Square West.

Full service is available Monday through Saturday at the following nearby locations:

We hope to see you soon. Thank you for supporting Queens Public Library.

QPL Logo

JANUARY 8, 2020—The following is a statement by Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott about today's rally at Court Square Library in Long Island City.

My team and I have worked for more than a year to find alternatives and have visited numerous locations. During this time we also have spoken about the situation with the Mayor’s Office, local elected officials, including the Council Member, community members, real estate developers, real estate brokers, local businesses and non-profits, and companies that had planned to occupy or are going to occupy space in the building where the branch is located.

We reached out to and met with Savanna, the current owner, when Citi announced its plan in July 2018 to vacate the building. Savanna made clear it was not interested in working with us to stay there.

The mischaracterization of our efforts is unfortunate. We are fully committed to having a library in a growing neighborhood we have served for 30 years and continue to work to identify affordable and appropriate space. At the same time, the reality is that we have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the short- and long-term implications of securing a new home in an area with skyrocketing rents.  

We are meeting tomorrow with members of the community, elected officials, and Friends of Court Square to provide an update about our next steps.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

We hope you will join us this month for our special events that pay tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We also have suggestions below for great books and movies about Dr. King.

All Queens Public Library locations will be closed on Monday, January 20 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. You can return library materials 24/7 at more than 40 QPL locations and renew them by phone at 718-990-8508 or online.


Special Events

Book Picks for Kids

Book Picks for Teens and Adults

Movie Picks


Special Events

2020 & Sunny Dreams: A Jazz Dance & Poetry New Year Celebration
The New Year is here! Let’s celebrate! Join Kristin D. Takyi and Goussy Célestin for a performance of jazz dance and poetry, in honor of and inspired by many luminaries, including Louis Armstrong and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In dance, music, and spoken word, we will light up the New Year with good thoughts and positive vibes!

Thursday, January 9
East Elmhurst Library


MLK, Jr. Activities
Join us as we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 14
Woodside Library


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Poetry Writing Program
Join us for our poetry writing program. Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday with some poems that can help us to remember this very special man whose life and beliefs have made such an impact.

Tuesday, January 14
South Hollis Library


Gates of Equality with Urban Stages
Children ages 6-12 will hear the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as told from his speeches and writings. Space is limited.

Wednesday, January 15
Arverne Library


Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Craft
Children ages 6-12 will learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s peaceful approach to equality for all humans. They will also create a craft. Children younger than 8 should be accompanied by a grown-up.

Wednesday, January 15
Baisley Park Library


MLK Jr. Day Craft
Children ages 5 and up, come to the Forest Hills Library for a story and craft celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.! Preregistration is not required, but the program is limited to 16 children and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Get your ticket at the Children’s Room reference desk before the start of the program. Early arrival is strongly encouraged.

Thursday, January 16
Forest Hills Library


Adult Book Discussion
We will discuss the book "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.," edited by Clayborne Carson. Books are available for check out at Bay Terrace Library.

Friday, January 17
Bay Terrace Library


Martin Luther King, Jr. Quiz
Come and learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he did! There will be a quiz for ages 7 and up.

Friday, January 17
McGoldrick Library


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Program
Enjoy a reading of a book about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and use your creative skills to create a banner or sign.

Friday, January 17
Langston Hughes Library


His Dream: A Look at the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Join us to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with two film screenings. 11AM—"King in the Wilderness" (2018): Through personal stories of the people who were around him, this documentary follows Martin Luther King, Jr. during the last years of his life. 1PM—"Selma" (2014): The true story of courage and hope that changed the world forever.

Saturday, January 18
11am and 1pm
St. Albans Library


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Featuring Freedom Fighters
In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Children's Library Discovery Center presents our annual "Freedom Fighters" program.

Saturday, January 18
Central Library


Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Unity Project
Children will create a craft project that is meant to unify our community, then they will learn about the hero Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy.

Wednesday, January 22
Queensboro Hill Library


Dream To Read
The second annual "Dream to Read" is in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday. All are invited to a reading of various books to instill the love of reading. This program is sponsored by the Friends of Rosedale Library. Refreshments will be provided through generous funds from Council Member Donovan Richards.

Saturday, January 25
Rosedale Library


4 Little Girls: Moving Portraits of the American Civil Rights Movement
Filmmaker Keri Edge explores Birmingham in 1963 with this exuberant dance performance by the Edge School of the Arts (ESOTA) with a special appearance by Omar Edwards and his youth ensemble of aspiring foot musicians, A·Tone·Meant, set to an experimental documentary film that infuses historical authenticity and contemporary dance choreographed to spoken word and '60s protest songs to retell the horrific story of the four young black girls murdered in the Alabama church bombing in 1963.

Saturday, January 25
St. Albans Library


Go Far, Go Together: The Day Harlem Saved Dr. King
This is a multimedia, theatrical reenactment that depicts the day, over sixty years ago, when Dr. King was nearly stabbed to death on September 20, 1958 at a book signing on 125th Street in the heart of Harlem.

Monday, January 27
Central Library

—back to top—


Book Picks for Kids


Book Picks for Kids

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. (foreword by Coretta Scott King; paintings by fifteen Coretta Scott King Award and Honor Book artists)

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. (illustrated by Kadir Nelson)

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. (selected by Coretta Scott King)

My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marion Dane Bauer and Jamie Smith

Free at Last! by Angela Bull

The Cart that Carried Martin by Eve Bunting and Don Tate

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Raúl Colón and Paula Yong Shelton

We March by Shane W. Evans

My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris and Chris Soentpiet

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris and London Ladd

Martin Luther King, Jr. by Josh Gregory

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Leader by Grace Hansen

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by Lisa M. Herrington

Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kitson Jazynka

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III and AG Ford

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo and Brian J. Pinkney

I Am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore and Amy Wummer

The Life and Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Ira Peck

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier

Martin Luther King, Jr. by Lucia Raatma

Martin Luther King...and the Fight for Equality by Sarah Ridley

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford and James Ransome

—back to top—


Book Picks for Teens and Adults


Book Picks for Teens and Adults

I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr.

I Have a Dream and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Trumpet of Conscience by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where Do We Go From Here by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Companion (selected by Coretta Scott King)

The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. (selected by Coretta Scott King)

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (edited by Clayborne Carson)

A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran)

A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard)

A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King, Jr. for Students (introduction by Walter Dean Myers)

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches (edited by James Melvin Washington)

I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World (edited by James Melvin Washington)

The Radical King (edited by Cornel West)

My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King and Barbara Reynolds

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Perspectives on Modern World History) by Noah Berlatsky

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Valerie Bodden

The King Years by Taylor Branch

Burial for a King by Rebecca Burns

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia by Clayborne Carson

Waking from the Dream by David L. Chappell

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jacqueline Ching

April 4, 1968 by Michael Eric Dyson

I See the Promised Land by Arthur Flowers and Manu Chitrakar

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life by Marshall Frady

An American Death by Gerold Frank

The Life and Death of Martin Luther King, Jr. by James Haskins

Becoming King by Troy Jackson

Life Magazine: Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman

My Time with the Kings by Kathryn Johnson

Kennedy and King by Steven Levingston

March: Book One, Book Two, and Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Routledge Historical Biographies) by Peter J. Ling

The Murkin Conspiracy by Philip H. Melanson

Orders to Kill by William F. Pepper

Killing the Dream by Gerald Posner

Who Killed Martin Luther King? by James Earl Ray

Redemption: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Last 31 Hours by Joseph Rosenbloom

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

King: Pilgrimage to the Mountaintop by Harvard Sitkoff

Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Final Year by Tavis Smiley

Chasing King's Killer by James L. Swanson

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Let Freedom Ring by Michael Teitelbaum and Lewis Helfand

Martin Luther King, Jr.: A King Family Tribute by Angela Farris Watkins and Andrew Young

—back to top—


Movie Picks


Movie Picks

Been to the Mountaintop (2006)

Boycott (2001, PG)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective (1994)

Freedom on My Mind (1994)

History Kids: Martin Luther King, Jr. (2018)

I Am Not Your Negro (2016, PG-13)

In Remembrance of Martin (1986)

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013, PG-13)

King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970)

King in the Wilderness (2018)

The March (2013, TV-PG)

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World (2008)

Martin's Big Words (2005)

Men of Peace: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela (2009)

Our Friend, Martin (1998)

Roads to Memphis (2010, TV-PG)

Selma (2014, PG-13)

Selma, Lord, Selma (1999, PG)

We Shall Overcome (2009)

Who Killed Martin Luther King? (1989)

—back to top—

QPL Magazine 2019

You can remember all of the exciting things that happened at the Library this year with the top twelve Queens Public Library Magazine articles of 2019!

(That's right, it was such a busy and eventful year for us, we couldn't pick just ten!)

From our Black History Month passport challenge to our first robotics competition for kids, from the launch of our new name and our Renewed Promise to the Public to our JetBlue Soar with Reading vending machine, from a hip hop monuments exhibit to the opening of our new library at Hunters Point, relive our best moments from this year.

You can also catch up on new books that are at the Library with articles about their authors, some of whom visited us this year, including Kwame Alexander, David W. Blight, and Wayétu Moore.

For additional library news, book recommendations, and more, read all of our back issues.

Here is the full list of 2019’s top articles:

Books illustrated by George Ford

George Ford, a pioneering children’s book illustrator who received the first Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, reflects on his life in publishing and growing up in the immigrant community of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Ford visited Langston Hughes Library this year to give a talk, emphasizing that the library is always the best place to start if you want to learn new things about yourself.

“I explored new worlds in the library on Stone Avenue, finding not only books but music from all over the world on recordings and tape,” he recalls.

Ford, who is in his nineties, says that before 1950 discrimination against blacks in hiring, renting, or selling houses in certain neighborhoods also applied to jobs in publishing. “No black characters appeared and no blacks were hired,” he says. Ford’s first job was with a greeting card company, where he drew Santa Claus and scenes for Christmas cards.

In 1965, he was encouraged by a Brooklyn Public Library executive to contact Mel Williamson at Viking Press, who was the only black art director at a major book publisher. Ford says that Viking’s editor-in-chief, Velma Varner, was very responsive to the push for more racial diversity in their children’s books. “I was not famous and I did not have a portfolio of printed samples of published work, but I did have lovingly done drawings of two well-known personalities and two of children from my neighborhood–each of a different race,” he says. Williamson encouraged and affirmed Ford’s talent.

Ford says he is very proud to have received the first Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration: “I did not take it as a personal triumph, but rather as a symbol of our collective black pride. It also suggested to me that perhaps I had been successful in creating a work, Ray Charles, that was of great inspiration to black children.”

As an illustrator he has “always admired the expansive and heroic world created in the paintings of N.C. Wyeth and the urgent, restless, and unsettling paintings of Jacob Lawrence.” Ford also commends Brian Pinkney and Javaka Steptoe for “having developed their own distinctive styles after growing up under the influence of such legendary talented fathers as Jerry Pinkney and John Steptoe.”

Today, he says that a noticeable development in publishing has been the rise of independent publishers, such as Just Us and Lee and Low, whose lists are “specifically aimed at and represent racial and ethnic so-called minorities.” It is because of them, he believes, that “a black art student today can realistically expect to pursue a career portraying black life in children’s books.”

Reading is an important part of his work as illustrator. As he explains, “I could not illustrate a book without soaking up the meaning of it by reading—and rereading—the manuscript, as well as everything I can find out about the subject of the book.”

Ford, an avid reader, advocates that people surround themselves with others who will lift them up. He believes that “people who really appreciate you will help you to appreciate yourself for who you are” but also that “confidence in yourself is necessary to achieve anything.”

“Honor your personal thoughts and feelings, even if others don’t agree with them,” he says.

Holiday Closings 2019

Here is the Library's holiday schedule for the end of December 2019. (Please pay special attention to our opening hours on December 24 and 31. Happy Holidays!)

All Queens Public Library locations will close at 1PM on Tuesday, December 24.*

  • Central Library and Flushing Library will open at 9AM on Tuesday, December 24.
  • Our other branches will open at 10AM on Tuesday, December 24.*

All QPL locations will be closed on Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25.

All Queens Public Library locations will close at 1PM on Tuesday, December 31.*

  • Central Library and Flushing Library will open at 9AM on Tuesday, December 31.
  • Our other branches will open at 10AM on Tuesday, December 31.*

All QPL locations will be closed on New Year's Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. Happy New Year!

* Queens Public Library for Teens, at 2002 Cornaga Ave. in Far Rockaway, is closed on December 24, December 25, December 31, and January 1.