Back-to-School Kids’ Virtual Pajama Party September 25
Press Release · Friday, September 17, 2021

Washington, DC

Join us on Saturday, September 25, at 8 p.m. ET, for a back-to-school Virtual Pajama Party with civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez and author Winifred Conkling! This event is for kids ages 8–12 (and interested siblings). 

Learn about civil rights and the value of friendship through Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling, and hear from title character Sylvia Mendez herself! The book, based on a true story, explores the friendship of two third-grade girls: Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu. When the Munemitsu family is sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, the Mendez family takes over the Munemitsu family farm in California. Sylvia looks forward to the start of school, only to learn that she and her siblings cannot enroll, although her lighter skinned cousins could, because of the discriminatory policy.. This led to the groundbreaking Mendez v. Westminster desegregation lawsuit that preceded Brown v. Board of Education. 

The chapters alternate between the experiences of Sylvia and Aki, introducing readers to the daily injustices of internment and school segregation. Children are encouraged to create and share their artwork and writing through at-home educational activities online here, including creating a mini-museum exhibit on the book’s "friendship & family" theme. Questions? Email with the subject line "Pajama Party." The event is free but online registration is required. 

Sylvia Mendez was the child at the center of the landmark lawsuit on behalf of children of Mexican descent that banned segregation in California public schools and paved the way for the desegregation of public schools nationwide. Since retiring as a pediatric nurse, she has devoted her life to telling the story of her family and the legacy of the case, and in 2011 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. 

Winifred Conkling is the author of non-fiction titles for young people. In addition to Sylvia and Aki, she’s written Passenger on the Pearl (on slavery), Radioactive! (on  female scientists), and Votes for Women (on Women’s Suffrage). She’s taught reading to inmates at a maximum-security prison, run a marathon, spent the night in a dung hut with Samburu warriors, and volunteered with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in India!

Related Educational Resources:


Stay in your PJs and watch our earlier Virtual Pajama Parties!  

Meet James Madison! National Archives Comes Alive! Young Learners Program
Celebrate the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution with the “Father of the Constitution” and fourth President of the United States James Madison! Madison (portrayed by John Douglas Hall) will reflect on his role in the creation of the landmark document over 86 long, hot days in the summer of 1787. Fun facts! Madison, the oldest of 12 children, had no kids. At 5 feet, 4 inches, he’s our shortest President ever. 

Related Educational Resources:

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond with Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez!
Learn more about gymnastics, the Olympics, and women in sports with featured Olympic gold medalist and author Laurie Hernandez! Hernandez shared and answered questions about her life in gymnastics, training for the Olympics, and post-Olympic experiences, while emphasizing the importance of trying new things, setting goals, and hard work. Special appearances by Deputy Archivist Debra Wall and Archivist David S. Ferriero.

The Hero Two Doors Down with Sharon Robinson, author and Jackie Robinson’s daughter!
Jackie Robinson’s daughter shares her book The Hero Two Doors Down about her dad’s barrier-breaking baseball career and lifelong commitment to civil rights. Participants read the inspiring book The Hero Two Doors Down, learned about historical documents in the National Archives, and created and shared their own artwork and writing based on themes from the book.


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This page was last reviewed on September 17, 2021.
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