Local Mothers Group Donates 100+ Diverse Books

By: Rachel Lopez

March is #ReadingMonth! We know that reading is powerful. Books allow students to step into another world, reflect on their own life, and be inspired for the future.

However, 85% of books feature White Americans [1].

The majority of students we serve are children of color which is why we are intentional about purchasing books that reflect and celebrate diverse communities.

Diverse stories encourages self-reflection among readers and creates a sense of comfort. People like to see themselves and identify with the stories they read [2]. As you can see from the infographic below, there is a large gap in the number of diverse books [3]. It’s up to us as a community to ensure our students are being represented, uplifted, and inspired by the books in our libraries.

Last fall Natalie Hall, from the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc (GGRJJOA), toured our Mentor Center. Natalie explains, “GGRJJOA seeks to be an integral part of cultivating positive change and growth within our local communities. Our National and local level organization focuses on initiatives that equips our members and youth with the power to make a difference in our chapters, communities and in the lives of children around the country! We connected with Affinity Mentoring due to the commonality in your mission in ways that positively affect change and growth in our communities.”

During the tour we discussed the disparity in children’s literature featuring characters of color. Natalie decided that she and the mothers of GGRJJOA would help us tackle that challenge by pledging to donate 100 books featuring students of color by March (Reading Month).

(L-R) – Natalie Hall, Tracey Brame, La’Leatha Spillers, Veronica Bradford, and Lisa Oliver-King

For the past few months Natalie, along with 20 mothers of her local chapter, have been actively collecting and purchasing books filled with diverse characters to reflect, inspire, and celebrate our students! Together, they collected over 100 books featuring characters of color for Affinity Mentoring!

The books vary by reading level (K-8th) and include fiction, non-fiction, and Spanish language books!

We know that it’s up to us as a community to ensure our students are being represented, uplifted, and inspired by the books in our libraries. Thank you GGRJJOA for stepping up as community leaders to ensure our students can see themselves reflected in our libraries!

Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated is a membership organization of mothers with children ages 2-19, dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty.

If you’d like to donate diverse books or create a service project that supports Affinity please contact info@affinitymentoring.org.

[1] Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth (2016). “Stories Still Matter: Rethinking the Role of Diverse Children’s Literature Today”. Journal of Language Arts94 (2): 112–120.

[2] Wopperer, Emily (2011). “Inclusive Literature in the Library and the Classroom”(PDF). Knowledge Quest39 (3): 26–34. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

[3] Reflection Press (2017). “Children’s Books as a Radical Act.” http://www.reflectionpress.com/childrens-books-radicalact/