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A Beautiful Community

This ABC book about the joy of reading together celebrates, in simple sentences, the people that bring Philadelphia's neighborhoods to life.

Photo of Danielle Shylit
7 3

Written by

A Beautiful Community

Aunties are awake. 

(*Child, book, bed, Puerto Rican women, Fairhill)

Brother brings books. 

(*African-American boy, sister, books, Point Breeze) 

Children cuddle close. 

(*Indian-American children, couch, book, Center City)

Dad draws dogs.  

(*Ukrainian-American man, drawing book, son, Northeast Philadelphia)

Everyone enjoys eating. 

 (*Vietnamese family, cookbook, South Philadelphia kitchen)

Friends find fun. 

(*Pre-school children,Seek-and-Find book, Philadelphia daycare)

Girl grows gardens.  

(*Afro-Caribbean teenager, garden book, West Philadelphia)

He has heroes. 

(*Dominican boy, comic book, Near Northeast Philadelphia)

I imagine ideas.

(*African-American tween, journal, North Philadelphia)

Junior just jokes.

(*Irish-American boy, Mayfair, joke book)

Kids keep kittens.

(*Korean American girls, Olney, kittens, pet book)

Librarian looks and listens.

(*School-age children, books, Philadelphia library)

Mom makes music.

(*African immigrant mother, toddler, Cedar Park, drumming, music book)

Neighbors need news.

(*Polish-American neighbors, bench, Port Richmond,newspapers)

Officer opens ovals.

(*Female officer, oval, “Lift-the-flap” book, daughter, Northwest Philadelphia.)

Papa points to pictures. 

(*Italian-American grandfather, grandson, board book, Bella Vista.)

Queens question quietly.

(*African-American sisters, West Philadelphia, crowns, fairytale book)

Relatives ready to read.

(*Chinese-American couple, Chinatown, child, book.)

Sister shares stories.

(*Jamaican-American sister, book, brother, Southwest Philadelphia)

Toddlers take turns.

(*Two toddlers exchanging board books, Fishtown.)

Uncle understands us.

(*African-American uncle, nephews, Germantown, Philadelphia Eagles book)

Visitors view videos.

(*School-age friends, Kensington, tablet screen)

Woman whispers words.

(*Pakistani grandmother, grandson, poetry book, Center City.)

X’s express excitement!


(*Children jumping, bodies in X shape holding books.)

You yell, “Yay!” 

(*Cheering group, read-aloud on stage)

Zayde zips zippers.

(*Russian Jewish grandfather, cloth book, granddaughter, Northeast Philadelphia)

*Photograph descriptions

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

Whether you are a newcomer to Philadelphia or an old-timer born and bred in the city, A Beautiful Community will inspire you to seek joy in words and pictures with your young loved one. This book elevates simple words and sentences to help language learners, young and old, make sense of structure and to depict connected, loving moments reading with the diverse people of Philadelphia that bring our city's vibrant neighborhoods to life.

Share your suggested book title

A Beautiful Community

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

I designed this book with both early childhood language development and the caregiver profiles in mind and heart. While the ABC book structure anchors the English alphabet's letter symbols to alliterative 3- and 4-word sentences with a simple, readable subject/verb structure, each page will be a unique, photographic story depicting real people in different Philadelphia neighborhoods experiencing the joy of building meaningful relationships and deep connections by reading together. The vocabulary in the book is comprised of primarily Tier 1 words, leveraging Robert J. Marzano's Categories of People and Pronouns Super Clusters syntactically connected to other decodable and high frequency words that describe relationships, and content specific words about books and other media. Once high quality photographs that capture key visual reference points are added, these pages should provide powerful support for language acquisition as well as windows and mirrors for diverse perspectives.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

I am an educator who has worked in the city of Philadelphia in various capacities since 2014. I have spent significant time in more than 50 district, charter, and parochial schools across the city, and have fallen in love with the beautiful community I have encountered. I would love to use my craft to elevate the incredible strength and beauty of the people supporting Philadelphia's next generation to read and learn and the joy of reading itself.

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I want everyone that encounters this book to see themselves, their neighbors, and their neighborhoods in its pages. I also want them to see other neighborhoods, cultures, and peoples across the City of Brotherly Love. Mostly importantly, though, I want every child and caregiver to see each and every person on these pages reading, learning, and connecting with joy, purpose, and power. The photographic illustrations of real Philadelphians will show that this is here, this is now, and this is beautiful. No matter how fast the pace of urban life gets for busy caregivers, there will be enough time to share this short, beautiful book with a young loved one - and maybe learn something, too.

Location: Country

United States

Location: State or Department


Location: City


Tell us more about you / your team

Dani Shylit - What makes learning powerful? This question has been the most consistent pulse of my lifework. I am on a constant quest to find that purposeful intersection of innovation and best practices that sustains my own joy, meets my family’s needs, optimizes my talents, and makes the world better. My scenic route from independent school teacher and leader to charter school administrator for urban progressive schools to leadership coach for new principals in Philadelphia to curriculum creator to leader of innovation has been saturated with dynamic drives towards meaningful change and opportunities to craft systems that energize new ideas and opportunities for learners and leaders alike. But I am also a creative - a radical synthesizer who loves to play - with words, with people, with toys, and with ideas. I want to use my talents to bring the same joy to the children of Philly by making a book that brings them closer to the people and places they love.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

I would love the photographs to be real, beautiful, and adept at capturing the meaning of each simple sentence to amplify understanding of the vocabulary.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

I was a Senior Content Lead for Great Mind's Wit & Wisdom ELA curriculum.

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • William Penn Foundation website / social media

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Danielle Shylit

I am so grateful for the comments and connections, and sorry that I have been mostly MIA in recent weeks due to some family urgencies.

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