Perhaps you’ve seen them in your neighborhood: cute little wooden houses, filled with books. They’re called Little Free Libraries, and they’re a truly grassroots tool in the quest for literacy. Now, the Little Free Library organization wants to create diversity in literature as well, with its new Read in Color pledge.
New York high school counselor and Little Free Library steward, Sarah Kamya, really jump started the movement. She filled her local library with diverse books and shipped those books through her Little Free Diverse Libraries project.
“Having conversations regarding race with children and youth is extremely important to me. I truly believe that we have to teach about race and differences and a lot of that starts at home, and through books. I also find it important for books to represent diverse characters because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” Kamya stated on the site.
Twin Cities Launch
Read in Color is a way to distribute books boasting diverse perspectives on subjects like racism, social justice, and celebrating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and LGTBQ literature. Conceived after the murder of George Floyd, the program begins in the Twin Cities and will roll out nationally from there as the year progresses.
Here’s how it works. Everyone can sign a pledge signaling a commitment to reading and sharing diverse books. You can opt to showcase your pledge on the Read in Color site’s Pledge Wall. And, if you are already a Little Free Library steward, apply for shipments of diverse books at no cost to you; they are purchased from BIPOC-owned independent bookstores and delivered to your Twin Cities location.
Make Your Own Little Free Library
Little Free Libraries work on the idea of “take a book, share a book.” Books are installed in the little library, available to anyone. The expected quid pro quo is replacing it with a different book to keep the library’s inventory steady.
On the Little Free Library website, you can register your own library. There’s also pre-made Little Libraries ready for your front yard, as well as plans if you’d prefer to DIY. And, if you need a bunch of books fast, you can get them quite deeply discounted through the site as well.
Little Free Libraries are an amazing way to connect with your neighbors and spread the joy of reading.
Picks From Kamya’s Little Free Diverse Library
Kamya speaks from years of experience with kids when she says that kids need to see themselves, and their world, in all its diversity.
“Diverse books include, but are not limited to; books about LGBTQ+, books where people with disabilities are represented, books that discuss and highlight different religions/beliefs, books featuring people from different countries, books featuring Black Indigenous People of Color, and more,” Kamya tells Parentology.
She urges Little Free Librarians to think about what would benefit their specific communities. “It is also important to note that these books range from 0-100. It is important to think about what age group you’re targeting and what people in your community may need more of. I strongly believe that discussing race must begin at an early age, therefore I find children’s books to be crucial to starting conversations and change.”
Kamya’s Top 10
- Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli
- I Am Enough by Grace Beyers
- Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
- Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
- Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
- The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
- Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
- Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama
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