• Kid Quixotes

    by Stephen Haff, Sarah Sierra
    Price $27.99
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    Kid Quixotes
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May 20, 2020

Stephen Haff

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes STEPHEN HAFF—writer and founder of the afterschool literacy program Still Waters in a Storm—for a discussion of his book, Kid Quixotes: A Group of Students, Their Teacher, and the One-Room School Where Everything Is Possible. He will be joined in conversation by celebrated critic and author JAMES WOOD.


Still Waters in a Storm is an after-school program held in a small room in Bushwick, Brooklyn; it is a place for kids to practice reading and writing in English, Spanish, and Latin. For the students, many living in constant fear of deportation, Still Waters is a refuge. For Stephen Haff, a former public-school teacher, it is the sanctuary he built following a breakdown caused by bipolar depression. At Still Waters, all agreed that there would only be one rule: “Everyone listens to everyone.” And this has unlocked spectacular potential.

Since 2016, the students have been collectively translating Don Quixote into English, taking the Spanish tale—a story about a dreamer who never gives up—and adapting it into a bilingual musical. Six-year old Sarah tells of her mother’s journey across the desert from Mexico riding on the back of a tiger. Alex, a very private teenager, sings her coming out song to standing ovations. As the kids perform their work across NYC, they learn that they belong in this country—their voices amplifying to deliver a message of diversity, love, hope, and resilience essential to us all.

About Author(s)

Stephen Haff is the founder of Still Waters in a Storm, an afterschool program serving Spanish-speaking immigrant children in Brooklyn. Previously, he taught English at a public school in Bushwick for nearly a decade. He earned his MFA in Theater at Yale, and has directed plays and taught theater in New York, Vermont and Canada. He currently lives in Queens with his wife and three children.

James Wood is a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker and the recipient of a National Magazine Award in criticism. He is the author of several previous essay collections, the novels The Book Against God and Upstate, and the study How Fiction Works. He is a professor of the practice of literary criticism at Harvard University.