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August 24, 2018

Can a book drive change a child’s future? We think so.

Here in the Bay Area, 86% of our student body is students of color, but only 17% of the books they are reading are by authors of color. At Reading Partners, we cannot accept this! We want our students to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. To become lifelong readers, students must connect with the stories they read and know that possibilities for a bright future are within reach.

Since 1985, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center has tracked the demographics of authors who publish children’s books and how ethnic and racial groups are represented. The few stories that depict characters of color often pigeonhole the characters according to their ethnicity, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation which gives young readers a very narrow image of themselves. As students read these stories, characters who reflect their experiences and identities are noticeably absent. By failing to include non-white characters in stories, students internalize narratives that they do not see themselves in, resulting in a world view that doesn’t value what they bring to the table. 

As one young activist put it, students need more than stories about “white boys and their dogs.”  They need books that represent and celebrate the diverse communities we live in, books about middle-class African Americans, Latina princesses, and LGBTQ+ folks who are embraced when they come out. Children need stories that allow them to dream, and to know that there are many possibilities in life.

This winter, in honor of MLK Day, we are calling on our supporters and community members to help show students in the Bay Area just how important they are by donating books that reflect their unique and diverse backgrounds. If you feel the same way we do, we invite you to participate!  Starting on January 21, 2019, we are collecting books by authors of color and books that depict characters that our students can connect with.  

To view our list of diverse, multi-cultural and affirming books, please check out our Amazon Wishlist.

To learn about how to easily host a book drive at your company, school, or organization, contact Andrea at andrea.edelman@readingpartners.org. 

Americorps

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