My Visit to Newtown: The Rainbow Fish Project

The Rainbow Fish Project in Newtown

C.H. Booth Library is located in Newtown, about five minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary school. I can say with some confidence that at one time or another,  the librarians of C.H. Booth crossed paths with the children who died.

On Saturday, I visited C.H. Booth to host “Stories Worth Sharing: A Program of Reading and Creating for Children & Parents.” Mary Hamilton, a local art therapist also attended to help host the program.

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I was nervous about this program. Alana, the director of the children’s department had told me that she wasn’t sure how many children would attend. After the shooting, many of the families were staying in to avoid the constant reminders of the tragedy. When I showed up and saw that 26 families had registered for our program, I was so happy! I was even happier when I found out that we’d likely have a spill over of more children who were attending another program that preceded ours.

I read three stories to a roomful of children and parents. We read: Dragons Love TacosThis Moose Belongs to Me and The Rainbow Fish. I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to these stories and nothing is worse than having a room of 4-7 year old turn against you. As luck would have it, they LOVED the stories…especially Dragons Love Tacos…One adorable four year-old even shouted from the front row, “Read that one again!!!” Too cute, right? (This same four year-old also had a major crush on my bubble necklace, which she told me was “the most beautiful of them all.” She was a girl after my own heart.)

After reading the stories, we all moved to a large table and created our own rainbow fish, complete with sparkling metallic scales. Mary led the activity and encouraged the children to share their scales with one another, just as the rainbow fish had done in the story.

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In addition to creating beautiful and creative fish, these kids taught me a few lessons about fish. In the last photo of the above grouping, I was getting schooled on the defense mechanism of the eyes on a flounder. Who knew?

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To coordinate with The Rainbow Fish story, I set out a rainbow display of art bags for the children to take home. In addition to tons of brand new art supplies, each bag contained one of the stories that had been told during the program. The kids loved it and the parents were extremely grateful. When it was all said and done, we distributed about 80 art bags during this event.

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(The above hand belongs to one rambunctious four year-old who had quite the love-fest with my jewelry. Loved her.)

Even with the tragedy that came to Sandy Hook & Newtown, this library program was a fantastic reminder of the life and spirit that are very much alive in these towns. In looking at each child, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the ones who were killed, but I was also thankful; thankful for the ones who were there, being wild, crazy kids. I guess my four year old friend put it best, these kids are “the most beautiful of them all.”

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25 comments

  1. (I want your bubble necklace).

    BEAUTIFUL!!! What an amazing afternoon for you AND them. I loved reading this post, and seeing all those rainbow bags lined up just makes this whole project real. This is awesome, Amber!!

  2. Sue B on said:

    You are more of a blessing than you will ever know. Thank you for taking your time to actually do something to help.

  3. June K on said:

    I’m getting such a warm feeling with what you’ve done. Thank you for all that you are doing. P.S. Looks like your little friend LOVES purple.

  4. Tanya Maia on said:

    LOVE IT!

  5. Linda Roberts on said:

    Thanks for sharing Amber and for letting us participate in a small way
    Good job!

  6. Loly Borda on said:

    Awww Thank you for making that trip, and for sharing it with us. Know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers, I’m so thanksful for what you have done.

  7. Ruth G on said:

    I love hearing about your experiences helping the families in Newtown cope with the tragedy that has taken loved ones away. I think that stories as well as art are such fabulous tools to touch young hearts. I used to volunteer at my kids’ school library and have read for preschool through 2nd graders and always enjoyed seeing the excitement the kids had about reading – that’s what I wanted to share with them and I’m so glad you’re having an opportunity to share that with the children of Newtown! Especially for them to take home and enjoy over and over!

  8. conil on said:

    Thank you sooooo much for sharing this.
    Love children’s resiliency, aren’t they precious?

  9. Melissa Shea on said:

    So sweet & a huge success!! I wish I could hug those kiddos! Great work, Amber!

  10. Jo on said:

    Amazing job Amber. I hope you will keep giving the bags until you run out of bags, supplies or money. Very touching to read your post, makes me feel connected in some way.

  11. Betty Sue on said:

    Thanks for all the posts related to your visit. You did an amazing thing and I loved warching it all come together and the beautiful results!

  12. Thank you, Angel Amber! I’d love to hear what will be happening next. I’ve made eight cards for the children’s tote bags for future visits, because my understanding is that you will be continuing Drawn Together throughout this year. Is that correct; is it okay to mail my cards to the PO Box at this time?

    Thank you for all you’ve done and will continue to do for these sweet children and their families!! Darnell

    • amber on said:

      Hi Darnell! Yes, you are correct, that I’ll be continuing the project. Please feel free to mail your cards!! Thanks so much.

  13. Troy Louise on said:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart – your assistance through this program is beyond words. Thank you for sharing your visit with us – it brought tears to my eyes. These young children are so amazing. Big Hugs.

  14. Carol Wilson on said:

    <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

  15. So awesome, Amber…I would shout “Read that one again,” TOO! That is a great book :) Thanks so much for sharing your photos and journey with us…warms my heart!

  16. GinaE on said:

    Beyond “LOVE” there just are no words for me to say. Well, there’s a lot I want to say, but I can’t quite get ‘em out.

  17. Lindsey on said:

    You are such an inspiration. I admire you so much, not just for doing something, but for giving of yourself and your time.

  18. Jenni Thigpen on said:

    You are truly an extraordinary angel, my sweet Amber. Your heart, creativity, sincerity, and passion are inspiring to all who know you. What an incredible gift you have given to these children and families (and to all of us!). Love you!!!

  19. Jennifer on said:

    This is absolutely amazing and so awesome! I’m so happy to be a small part of this. Thank you for putting this all together and seeing it until the end. Xoxo

  20. Amber, you are amazing! From afar we can only imagine the struggles this community is going through. That you brought some much needed ME time for them is a wonderful gift. Keep up your great work.

  21. Amazing and inspiring, Amber! Thank-you for going, and thank-you for sharing!

  22. Hi! I am the publishing director for NorthSouth Books, the publisher of the Rainbow Fish. What an absolutely beautiful thing you have done. I have forwarded the link to Marcus Pfister, the author, as well. Please contact me at your leisure, I would love to talk to you more about the project and NorthSouth Books would love to support you in any way we can. Best wishes!

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