All photos by David Rosen
Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, came to West Seattle’s Sanislo Elementary on April 8 to meet with Poetry Club students as part of National Library Week for which she is honorary chair. PLEASE CLICK THE IMAGE OR SEE BELOW THE STORY FOR MORE PHOTOS.

SLIDESHOW: Caroline Kennedy visits Sanislo Elementary to share a love for poetry

If there are any questions about the importance of libraries and the joy of reading a poem from paper in this digital age, the students of Sanislo Elementary made a good case for continued relevance as they spent 45 minutes reading with Caroline Kennedy on April 8.

The author, attorney, potential future US Ambassador to Japan and daughter of President John F. and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy visited the West Seattle elementary school as part of her duties as the honorary chair of National Library Week and met with first through third grade students in Sanislo’s Poetry Club.

Sanislo teacher/librarian Craig Seasholes joined Kennedy and the students in reading a number of favorite poems from their books, including Janet Wong’s “Liberty,” an updated rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance the kids knew by heart. In unison, they serenaded Kennedy with the following:

I pledge acceptance
of the views,
so different,
that make us America

To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn

One people
sharing the earth
responsible
for liberty
and justice
for all.

The kids were eager to share their favorites with Kennedy in such a flurry that, at one point, she said, “Wow, there’s poetry coming from everywhere, from all directions.”

One student asked Kennedy if she still lived in the White House, but once that factoid was cleared up (she does not, for the record) it was on to more poetry.

Kennedy asked Sanislo’s bright minds why they enjoy the library, and the responses were plentiful, proof that rooms bursting with books continue to hold an important place in our lives: “There are a bunch of books, and I love books!” “It makes my brain better!” “I like the library because there is never someone mad here; books make people happy!”

The Sanislo Poetry Club was started up by a passionate 3rd grader named Cynta’liyah Stelivan, who said she wanted to stay inside during recess sometimes and just read poems. Soon enough, she had 10 others who wanted to do just the same. Stelivan told Kennedy she likes the library and poetry because they help relieve stress and keep her open-minded.

“You are showing everyone that kids like poems, they like to read and they like to share with friends,” Kennedy told the students.

A select number from the poetry club will also join Kennedy Monday night to talk about her poetry anthology, “Poems to Learn by Heart” at the Seattle First Baptist Church (the event is full).

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