Julie Katz is a lifelong Miami resident who came back home after college and founded Everybody Wins! South Florida – now known as Read to a Child – a children’s literacy and mentoring organization. She currently works in community relations and corporate responsibility at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
How does the hospital’s commitment to literacy mirror our own?
Nicklaus has long recognized that literacy is really important to a child’s growth and development, and several years ago we started an initiative called ENRICH – engage, nurture, and read to infants and children. It was developed with clinicians and designed to empower parents and caregivers to engage with young children through reading. Our goal is to provide resources that help boost literacy rates from birth, and the program within our hospital offers something called “Babies First Bilingual Library.” Those resources are made available to children admitted to Nicklaus as well as to our staff members who’ve welcomed new babies into their families. And Book Fair understands the impact of early literacy and really supports that in a way that is special.
That’s a perfect segue to my next question – why is supporting cultural institutions like Miami Book Fair so important to the community?
I think the answers to that are really endless. At the sort of highest-level view, it’s critical to ensure that we foster a robust community that provides these types of resources broadly – and not just having healthy kids as we address social determinants of health that literacy touches upon, but also a community that attracts a strongly diverse workforce to the city, and ensuring that Miami continues to be a city that offers something to everyone. Nicklaus really values the cultural institutions that contribute to who we are as a community in addition to simply benefitting children.
How does MBF’s work align with your personal thoughts on access to literary culture?
I’m a reader and I have always been a reader, and something to be proud of in Miami is that culture, which is recognized on a national level but first and foremost is a valuable resource to our community. I frequently attend Book Fair events throughout the year in addition to during November, and I spent a large portion of my professional career working in the literacy space. That’s something I’m really proud of.
What’s your most memorable Book Fair moment?
There’s so many, so one single experience doesn’t really stand out. But the Evenings With programs are always special.
I’d love to know – what are you reading right now, and what’s next on your list?
I’m a bit of a binge reader – I’ll stay up all night to finish a book; it’s very hard for me to put a book down once I’ve started it.
Me too. Lots of sleepless but worth it nights.[both laugh] I’m actually going to Europe tonight –
Yes, so I’ve had travel books at my side lately.
Where are you going?
It’s my first COVID-era vacation, and I’m going to do a quick spin around Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Stockholm.
Aside from the travel books, what’s the last great book you read?
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles.
Oh, I read that one; I really liked it, too. What was your favorite book as a kid or teenager?
In elementary school, maybe around third grade, it was The Baby-sitters Club books. At that time I think they were releasing one every month, and I just had to have the new one the moment it came out. I was the type of reader that went through so many books. I remember that the summer after first grade I had chickenpox, and my mom would go to the library every day and the librarian would be waiting for her with a stack of books for me. I’d get through them all by the next day.
If you could hear any author speak at the Fair, who would that be and why?
You know, I don’t think I can answer that one; I’m really bad with favorites! But something I do with the kids at Nicklaus is ask them what they’re reading and which authors they like, and Ann M. Martin’s Baby-sitters Club comes up a lot, which is cool for me. Even now as an adult I think I’d love to see her at Book Fair.