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October 21, 2022

Inspiring possibility: Chrishana White | My Bookmark

Chrishana White (she/her) is our director of equity here at Reading Partners. From memorizing Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown to impressing her mom with her literacy skills, Chrishana’s reading journey started early.

Like many children around the world, The Harry Potter series left its mark on Chrishana. 

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone

After being resistant to reading a book about magic and wizards, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and was mesmerized by this new world,” she says. “For starters, Harry Potter helped to expand my imagination–I shopped in Diagon Alley, I had an invisible wand for all the new spells I created, and I used my invisibility cloak for my daily commute to school on the Hogwarts Express.”

As a kid, Chrishana’s reading experience centered on books given to her or ones that teachers assigned for class. But “[those] books did not capture the experiences of my friends, family, how we lived, the ways we spoke, and how we interacted,” she recalls. “Now I’m more intentional about reading books written by Black authors and ones that center my culture and ways of being because these books give me a sense of home, familiarity, and comfort.” If you’re looking for something similar for your kids, this booklist is a great place to start. 

chrishana

When Chrishana is reading a great book, three words come to mind: connected, captivated, and humbled. But when Chrishana was a kid, it was a lot harder to find books that made her feel this way and that featured characters that reflected her lived experience. 

She wishes that her childhood self had access to all of the books in libraries today and all of the books that have been banned from libraries and bookshelves that “feature Black and brown kids, chubby kids, queer kids and families, kids with disabilities, books that center difference, but more importantly the real lived experiences of children and families. These books feature love, care, tenderness, community, joy, and possibility.” 

Having access to these types of books can be transformational for a young reader. She believes that books can be influential and instructional.  “They can provide language for experiences or feelings, help us overcome challenges and loss, teach about different families, people, and cultures, allow for opportunities to escape, imagine new worlds, and inspire possibility. They can provide space for kids to see themselves in the pages, not only the representation, but the stories.”

My Bookmark is a collection of stories from members of the Reading Partners community about their literacy journeys, thoughts on books today, and more. 

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