We the Dreamers: Hot Off the Presses

What do quill pens, author Daniel Alarcón, and mini-cupcakes from Miette have in common? They were all part of the spectacular 2010 Young Authors' Book Project release party at the Women's Building on June 2, of course. This year's publication, We the Dreamers: Young Authors Explore the American Dream, is a compilation of short essays on the American Dream written by fifty juniors and seniors from John O'Connell High School. All fifty students can now proudly count themselves among the esteemed ranks of our nation's published authors.

The evening began with local literary star Daniel Alarcón congratulating the students and reading an excerpt from his gorgeous foreword to the book. He was followed by student editorial board members Cristian Soto, Karen Martinez, and Angelica Verdugo, who shared tales of their efforts to honor their classmates' voices, come up with an inspiring title, and ultimately make the book a reality. To quote from their introduction to the book,

    When you get published, a book is your voice—but it's a voice that will be around forever. A book is more permanent than a song or a film because it's a physical thing. It's an expression of you as a person, and it will live on well past the time you will...Like the process of crafting this book, finding the voice inside us to put into these essays was the product of many weeks and forms of collaboration. Nobody reaches a dream without help. Sharing each of our voices with so many people has helped us better see the dream. It has helped the dream to create us just as much as we created it.

Afterward, two of their O'Connell classmates, Ares Almendares and Niat Sebhatleab, read excerpts from their essays, leaving audience members slack-jawed with awe and reaching for their Kleenex.

All the newly published authors spent the rest of the evening using quill pens to autograph copies of their book for classmates, family members, 826 Valencia volunteers, and others in attendance. We the Dreamers is now available online or at the Pirate Store, and will soon be available in bookstores nationwide and on Amazon.com.

826 Valencia would like to give a huge shout-out to four incredibly generous local businesses for donating delicious gourmet food for the event: Miette, Beretta, Tartine Bakery, and Arzimendi Bakery. We are so appreciative of their efforts to help make the event extra-special for our students and their families.

For more on the many amazing things that go on for kids at 826, go to www.826valencia.org.