Therese Van Ryne reads "Zippy's Special Gift" live at the Bernie's Book Bank Storybook Festival
By Your Edge Blog Team | July 01, 2021

A Special Gift on a Special Day: Storybook Festival Shares Stories of Love and Acceptance with Children

Hear how Therese Van Ryne’s live reading of her inspirational children’s book, “Zippy’s Special Gift,” supported Bernie’s Book Bank to empower thousands of children to realize and celebrate their own special gifts.

In an era of loss, isolation and adversity, what the world needs more than ever is a little more love, kindness and acceptance. Kids especially need a chance to feel connected and inspired again – to feel included and loved. They have spent the past year facing psychological hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened racial injustice, a time they should have spent discovering what makes them who they are and what makes them special. That’s precisely why Bernie’s Book Bank teamed up with organizations such as Zebra, and celebrities such as our own mascot, Zippy to host a Storybook Festival in Lake Bluff, IL on May 22, 2021. These kids needed a day to let their imaginations run wild and feel inspired by the meaningful lessons of inclusion and love authors such as Therese Van Ryne share in their books. Stories are powerful!

“It Was Magical”

This year’s Storybook Festival occurred on the perfect day for a costume parade. Children arrived dressed as their favorite storybook characters and joined in a parade alongside other celebrity icons such as Rainbow Fish, Curious George, Madeline, Belle and Pete the Cat. As the day went on, they could be found combing through the free children’s books provided by Bernie’s Book Bank, eating frozen treats, enjoying live music or even listening to a live reading of “Zippy’s Special Gift.”

It’s been over six months since Therese started telling Zippy’s story. And though Zippy has since traveled all over the world, this was the first time Therese had the opportunity to connect safely in person with Zippy’s fans. It was monumental for all and a chance to spread the love found within the pages of this award-winning book in a very poignant way. Therese said that even though she couldn’t see the children’s smiles behind their masks, their joy was evident within their eyes.

In fact, Zippy’s tale of proudly owning what makes her special proved to resonate with the festival participants, as two young girls approached Therese to share what they believed to be their own special gifts. A precious buzz of excitement grew among the kids when they learned they would each get to bring home their own copy of “Zippy’s Special Gift” to read again and again. It’s these moments that remind us of the beauty of storytelling and illustrate the importance of Bernie’s Book Bank’s efforts to bring reading into the hearts of children. Love and kindness have the ability to spread rapidly, and for a child, the influence of storytelling has no bounds.

Embrace the Simple Joys – and Your Stripes. And Help Others Do the Same.

Like Zippy and her friends, everyone has a gift that makes them extraordinary. As Zippy would say, the happiest way to live is by celebrating the special gifts of others and one’s own “stripes”. Our gifts can be the smallest of things but are no less special. For every person who learns to be proud of his or her gifts and accepting of others, the world becomes one step closer to being a space full of love, kindness and inclusion.

At Zebra Technologies, this is the kind of world we are striving for. We are taking action every day to create an inclusive environment – empowering each other to bring our authentic selves forward and accepting others for doing the same. We are challenging one another to make a real, positive impact on the world we share, and we encourage you do to the same within your companies and communities.

The Storybook Festival was a major hit this year, with over 100 kids and parents given the opportunity to revel in their uniqueness and embrace their individualism without judgement or repercussion. And Zippy’s incredible story has helped thousands of others around the world start to understand their value. But our work is not done yet!

There couldn’t be a more meaningful time to bring these uplifting messages into the lives of children who have dealt with such tremendous obstacles. And thanks to Bernie’s Book Bank, the Storybook Festival and teachers like Ms. Ocasio in Denver, CO who are enthusiastically telling the story of “Zippy’s Special Gift” in their classrooms, the strength of love, courage and acceptance will continue to hold a home in the hearts of youth during their childhood and beyond.  

We want everyone to find – and feel confident in – their stripes. So, we encourage you to share Zippy’s story with those in your life who could use a little inspiration. In doing so, you will foster kindness and help us create a culture – a world – of belonging!


Editor’s Note:

Want to discover how Zippy and her friends find their special gifts? Order your copy of “Zippy’s Special Gift” here and write a review!


Related Reads:

Therese Van Ryne, author of "Zippy's Special Gift" at the Bernie's Book Bank Storybook Festival
Corporate Social Responsibility, Inside Zebra Nation,
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