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“A Promise to Grow:” A story about a boy with big dreams doing good deeds

A Promise to Grow book
(Image: VPM)

“A Promise to Grow” follows the story of CJ, a kind-hearted young boy with big dreams who likes to do good deeds. Inspired to help someone out, he creates a community garden in his Westhaven neighborhood in Charlottesville, Virginia.


The book is a collaboration between City of Promise, Virginia Humanities, and authors Marc Boston and Peyton Lewis. It is illustrated by Ariel Mendez.

Matthew Gibson, Executive Director, Virginia Humanities, said, “We envision ongoing opportunities to amplify important stories that highlight the history and people of this community. In that spirit, the book includes a foreword that acknowledges the destruction of Vinegar Hill, the historically Black neighborhood that was razed by the city in 1965, written in rhyme and crafted in a way that children can understand.”

Readers also learn about John West, Westhaven’s namesake. Born enslaved, West became a landowner and businessman and was considered one of Charlotteville’s wealthiest African Americans by the time of his death in 1927.

Mary Coleman, Executive Director, City of Promise, said, “This book highlights the beauty of childhood in the Westhaven neighborhood where kids have fun, dream dreams, and do good in their community. We also felt it important to tell the story of Vinegar Hill in a way children can grasp.”

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