Books Build Bridges between DC Students and Authors

Hooks Books Events Owner Perry Pidgeon Hooks had a vision—what if we could bring award-winning authors into disenfranchised communities so all students could be engaged and inspired to become writers and passionate readers? With a heartfelt belief that books can help inspire, inform, and engage, Perry and the HBE team set out to build bridges between DC students and nationally acclaimed authors, hoping to narrow the cultural gap and create power and energy to transform communities.

Hooks Book Events originally was founded with the mission of engaging employees and constituents by bringing authors to the office and worksite. Thought leaders and bestselling writers who had penned books on leadership, economics, psychology and the like shared their books and ideas through events and speaking engagements hosted by clients. This idea became the HBE mission and worked well in fostering relationships between authors, books, readers and writers, corporations and organizations — but Perry and her team wanted to do more.

Perry explains their passion: “We have seen firsthand how an idea can ignite a passion and connect people. We all need to do our part to help to narrow the cultural gap in our city and our nation. Bridge Builders enable us to recruit a roster of best-selling authors to partner with us to build bridges with books in local schools.  Students learn from the authors that they too can develop and share their own voices.”

Bulk Book Sales Fund Author Events for Schools

How does it work? When HBE fulfills a customer bulk book order (50-plus books), these bulk sales support the Bulk Books for Good program by allowing HBE to purchase books for those who can’t afford them. It also enables an author event to take place in a school that otherwise may not have the resources to host an author speech or book signing. DC-area schools currently participating in this program are Anacostia High School, Ballou High School, Eastern High School, Goodwill Excel Charter School and Trinity Washington University.

In the on-campus programs, students meet authors, listen to them describe their concepts and inspiration, and leave the event with their own signed book.

Local Students Meet Nationally Acclaimed Authors

Kondwani Fidel, Hannah Jewell, Dan Pink and Carol Anderson are four of the thought leaders who have participated as featured authors in the program. Kondwani is a Baltimore poet and essayist who has taught classes at the University of East London and lectured and shared poetry at universities and conferences across the U.S.  He is the author of Hummingbirds in the Trenches, which he recently shared with students at The Goodwill Excel Center. Two other recent authors who have spoken with DC students as part of the Bridge Builders series are Hannah Jewell, who wrote the Washington Post bestseller She Caused a Riot and is the on-camera host for the video team at the Post, and  Carol Anderson author of One Person No Vote. On November 30, bestselling author Dan Pink visited the Goodwill Excel Center to talk about his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

The Goodwill Excel Center is a unique, tuition-free charter school for adults age 14 to over 80 years old that  awards industry certifications and high school diplomas. Chelsea Kirk, Director, Goodwill Excel Charter School, recently hosted a Bridge Builder Event featuring the poetry of Kondwani for her students: “One of the students told me after when we were talking about the visit that, we need more people like him (Kondwani) showing us that we can do better, learn more, and tell our real story that people will listen to and still be true to who we are. I thought that was quite the insight!”

“No matter what obstacles you face in life, always remember to pursue your passion. Never have a plan ‘B’ because it only distracts you from your plan ‘A.'” — KONDWANI FIDEL, poet and essayist, Hummingbirds in Trenches

Influencing the Next Gen Leaders

Perry believes that authors have a great influence on America’s leaders and decision makers. “They have untapped potential to influence the young, the next generation of leaders in business and life.  By bringing authors together with students, we can inspire the future leaders of our communities and our country and help narrow the cultural divide. Books and authors shouldn’t be a luxury of wealthy communities, and we hope to be a conduit bringing books and writing to all communities, especially the DC area in which we live and work.”

  1. Author Hannah Jewell (Center) is flanked by teachers and administrators at Goodwill Excel Charter School during her Bridge Builders visit there.
  2. Baltimore native and author Kondwani Fidel is surrounded by student fan readers of his poetry and essays at his book signing at Eastern High School. The Bridge Builders event was sponsored by HBE as part of their Bridge Builder event series.
  3. Goodwill Excel Center Charter students get their books signed by author Hannah Jewell during a reception for students for Jewell’s book “She Caused a Riot.”
  4. Author Carol Anderson (Right) at Trinity Washington University with Bi’AnnCha Andrews, Student Affairs Program Coordinator at the school for a Bridge Builders event for university students.
  5. Authors Kondwani Fidel and Malachi Byrd visited Eastern High School students as part of the Bridge Builder series. The program presents author events to schools in the DC area and is funded by bulk book sales at HBE.