Once a month, North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph reads to children.
For an hour, he’ll pick a picture book and read to a group of 35 children at the North Miami Public Library, sharing stories of history and adventure.
“The kids, they really surprise me,” Joseph said. “They get so into it. They stand up, they wave their hands — they really want to participate.”
This month’s reading will be included in North Miami’s 90th anniversary celebration. The month of events will include the mayor’s reading, the reopening of North Bayshore William Lehman Park and a community bike ride through the city.
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For the first time since the readings began in December, Joseph will also be joined by a beloved children’s book character, Curious George. It marks the beginning of a new tradition at the library, library director Lucia Gonzalez said, where every two weeks, a well-known book character will visit the library.
“It’s just fun for a lot of the kids,” she said. “It’s a way to connect them with the books they read.”
But she said the mayor taking the time to read with the children has the most impact.
“I think for the children, it is most important because he’s a role model for them,” Gonzalez said. “You can see it, they’re attentive to every word he says.”
She said she was glad the reading was included in the 90th anniversary events because the library is the oldest public building in the city, built in 1948.
“It’s important for it to be highlighted as part of the celebration of the city’s history,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone has a library story. It’s a wonderful connection.”
While Joseph said being a part of the celebration is joyful, he’s already looking toward the centennial celebration just a decade away.
“If we sit idle and don’t engage our kids, we may not celebrate 100 years the way we would want to,” he said. “Ten years from now is what really is in my mind.”
And that is why the monthly reading is so important to Joseph. He’s not sure what book he’ll read Wednesday — Gonzalez will soon give him a selection of books about fitness and health to choose from — but he’s looking forward to the lessons he can share.
“The things that we teach these kids now, they will stay with them, and a lot of those things will shape the future,” Joseph said. “I consider myself lucky to be a part of it.”
If you go
What: A reading with North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph with an appearance from children’s book character Curious George.
When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 8
Where: North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd St., North Miami
For more information about the 90th anniversary events, visit the city website.