RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now that we've learned the names of the victims, we're also learning their stories. Emilie Parker was 6 years old. She had long, blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and a sweet smile. She was one of the 20 children killed on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Here's NPR's Russell Lewis with Emilie's story.
RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: Emilie Parker could light up a room. That's how her dad, Robbie, remembers her. He says she loved to try new things, with one exception - food. She was bright and creative, he says, and was a talented artist who carried around her markers and pencils.
ROBBIE PARKER: I can't count the number of times Emilie noticed someone feeling sad or frustrated, and would rush to find a piece of paper to draw them a picture, or to write them an encouraging note.
LEWIS: Robbie says his oldest daughter had a gift - a compassionate streak - especially when it came to her two younger sisters, ages 3 and 4. She was a mentor; teaching the middle sister to read, and the younger one to make crafts. And, he says, the siblings' bond went deeper.
PARKER: And they looked to her when they needed comfort. Usually, that's saved for a mom and a dad. But it was really sweet to see the times when one of them would fall, or one of them would get their feelings hurt, how they would run to Emilie to get support and hugs and kisses.
LEWIS: Robbie Parker stood before reporters last night, eyes puffy and red, pausing at times. He smiled as he talked about Emilie and remembering his last conversation with her, a brief chat before he dashed out for work on that terrible Friday.
PARKER: She woke up before I left. And I've actually been teaching her Portuguese. And so our last conversation was in Portuguese. And she told me good morning, and asked how I was doing. And I said that I was doing well. She said that she loved me. And I gave her a kiss, and I was out the door.
LEWIS: To work - in the newborn intensive care unit of a local hospital. He says he and his wife haven't come to grips with what happened and why.
PARKER: She always had something kind to say about anybody. And her love and the strength that she gave us, and the example that she showed us, is remarkable. She is an incredible person, and I'm so blessed to be her dad.
LEWIS: There are 19 other families grieving, struggling, and remembering the best about their children - children who are no longer here. Russell Lewis, NPR News, Danbury, Conn.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: You're listening to NPR News.