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Clarion Native to Launch New Book on Sunday; Proceeds to Benefit Jefferson-Clarion Head Start

Saturday, October 2, 2021 @ 12:10 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

Pam-Rak-Image (1)CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion native and Pittsburgh-based poet Pam Selker Rak is returning to Clarion tomorrow for a special book launch event for her new book, “Christmas Treedition.”

According to Rak, who launched her first book, “Sassafras Tea,” during an event in Clarion earlier this year, “Christmas Treedition” shares some of the same themes as her first book, continuing to recount fond memories of growing-up in Clarion.

“All of my books are based on my experiences of growing up in Clarion; and ‘Christmas Treedition’ shows us the importance of traditions in our lives, especially for children,” Rak told

“In my own case, it was a tradition, or ‘treedition’ in this case, for my dad and I to go on an annual search for the perfect Christmas tree. It was something I always looked forward to, not just because it meant Christmas was near; but because it was an afternoon of bonding with my father. That was the true gift.”

According to Rak, the book’s focus on the importance of traditions in families ties into a wider theme of the importance of traditions in communities and how they can keep people connected.

“As we’re participating in these kinds of traditions, be it (a) holiday or some other event, we can easily take them for granted. But even as so many years pass, they are truly the most meaningful memories we hold onto.”

She noted that traditions can become particularly important during more difficult times.

“Even when things are feeling out of kilter in the world around us, we can still hold onto those important moments and know that we’ll get through this.”

Rak said one difference between “Christmas Treedition” and her previous book is the illustrations.

“My book’s illustrations are quite different from my first book in that I wanted a more nostalgic, peaceful, and realistic feel to them, and I really believe that was achieved, thanks to my illustrator and designer.”

Christmas Treedition Cover

Another difference between the books is in Rak’s plans for the proceeds.

With an unofficial tagline of “there are reasons to my rhymes,” Rak’s mission for all of her books is tied into philanthropy and community, with proceeds to be donated to nonprofit organizations.

Clarion Free Library was the beneficiary of proceeds from “Sassafras Tea,” while proceeds from “Christmas Treedition” will be going to Jefferson-Clarion Head Start.

“I put out a post on social media seeking ideas for this next book, and Pam Aaron Johnson – the Executive Director of Head Start, and one of my oldest and dearest friends – suggested her organization. I thought it was a perfect fit, and this has been a great partnership so far.”

The partnership goes beyond donation of the proceeds from the book, as well. Rak’s books are also being used by the Head Start program as part of their curriculum.

“We’re developing lesson plans that correspond to each book so their teachers can utilize them in the classroom to their fullest potential. So the books are more than just ‘story time’ for kids; they also have important lessons attached to each one that will tie into PA’s standards for early education.”

Rak noted another thing she tries to do with her books is give children dreams for the future through opportunities for creative play and learning.

“We’re all really locked into technology as past-times; however, rather than being driven by algorithms, my books encourage creativity, imagination, and all of the “magic” that comes with that. In my opinion, this helps children to learn how to connect with others, how to problem-solve, and how to think outside of the box or device, in this case.”

Currently, Rak is also planning to release another two books in 2022.

Rak during the launch and book signing event in Clarion for her first book, "Sassafras Tea."

Rak during the launch and book signing event in Clarion for her first book, “Sassafras Tea.”

She plans to launch the first one, titled Pam-Anne Restaurant, in conjunction with Mother’s Day, and the second one, titled The Battle of Snowball, is planned for release during the 2022 Autumn Leaf Festival.

“My hopes for the future of my books is that we support nonprofits that help our communities and our children. That’s my sole mission.”

Rak said she also believes the role that area businesses can play in this initiative is crucial to supporting the local community.

“Their ability to financially fuel this project means more access to more children, not only in Western Pa., but also statewide. It also fits into many organizations’ corporate missions to impact timely social programs that give back to the regions in which they serve.

“So, my goal is to increase awareness amongst the business community to help support the initiative financially, so we can reach more children, not only in the Clarion and surrounding communities but also in Western Pennsylvania and, eventually, the entire state.”

However, she noted that she’s approaching this overall project slowly, one step at a time, with careful planning.

“I’m confident that when people really start to see the success of the books and their lesson plans in our Head Start classrooms, that we’ll get the momentum we need to grow this so more and more children in the Clarion region can benefit, as well as more and more children in surrounding communities.”

An official launch and book signing event for “Christmas Treedition” will be held at Fulmer House Books and Collectibles on Wood Street on Sunday, October 3, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Rak will also have a booth during the Autumn Leaf Festival Farmers & Crafters Day on Friday, October 8.

She and Johnson will also be guests for a segment on “Our Region’s Business,” on WPXI-TV on Sunday, October 31, at 11:00 a.m. where Bill Flanagan will be interviewing them on the books and their impact in Head Start classrooms.

“I would like to thank the local community for their support, first and foremost. It’s heartwarming for me. Clarion will always be home in my heart, no matter where I am. All of my memories were made there. All of my life lessons were learned there. All of the friendships that I made there still thrive today. It’s very special to me.

“Clarion really showed up for me, and I promise to always show up for Clarion, too.”


Local Poet Partners With Jefferson-Clarion Head Start to Launch Children’s Books in Classrooms

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