Reading for Pride & Justice – A birthday project


Picture of books, early hashtag that didn’t stick

I’ve been working on a side-project for a little over a month. This year for my not milestone-birthday I decided I wanted to do a book project. Back in January, I decided I wanted to collect 41 new books by authors of color and have them donated to schools in my neighborhood. I wanted these books to be new because I have a visceral warm feeling when I open a new book and I want every child to experience this as well.

The first step was to assemble a booklist using a fancy spreadsheet (h/t Brooke). I posted on Facebook to ask friends for suggestions. It was fun to see what people recommended. I easily could have chosen 41 books by myself but reading other people’s suggestions was worth the ask. Carrie saw the Facebook post and mentioned she was intrigued and wished she could do something similar. I invited her to join the project since she also has a February birthday. We expanded the focus to include books by disabled people or about disabilities. The project was born and after many failed hashtags it became known as the Reading for Pride and Justice book drive.

Why Books and Why Pride and Justice

Growing up I loved the school library, I was even in the Lincoln Elementary Library Club. We shelved books and helped with the card catalog. All of this is a bit ironic since I struggled as a reader as a kid. My elementary school grades for spelling were Cs an Ds, probably due to an undiagnosed learning disability. As an adult, I’m at the public library several times a week– if I got points for the amount of material we borrow I would be in the premier club. All of this to say access to books are important to me and being able to share high-quality books by authors of color sounded like a dream project when it popped into my head.

50058541_10156989339546499_4670238298256441344_oThe books my kids proudly bring home from their school library are incredibly well-read and sometimes held together with tape. We also know that most books are by white authors. In my neighborhood, we are a majority BIPOC community and I want children to see themselves reflected in the books they are surrounded by. They should feel a sense of pride picking up a new book that reflects themselves. When Carrie jumped onto the project it became even better. She brought a focus on disabilities justice and we collaborated on finding books we felt good about sharing with others.

A month before my birthday I put up a post on Facebook with a soft ask to invite people to participate. They could purchase a book from the wishlist, contribute money that I used to purchase books, or suggest other book titles or send good wishes – this wasn’t about money or material items. I was surprised by how excited our friends got about the project. Books started arriving on my doorstep ordered from the wishlist. Friends sent money for us to order books from BIPOC owned bookstores, and most importantly people were enthused and excited to see and hear more about the project.

What I Learned

When I first conceived of the project, I ran the numbers and thought I’d do it on my own. It wouldn’t be cheap, but I could self-finance it as my contribution back to my community. Many of my friends already donate to many worthy causes and I didn’t want to impose on anyone. I’m glad I opened myself up to talking about it to others because friends embraced it and enjoyed the project just as much as I did.

diversityinchildrensbooks2015_fI learned so much more about disabilities and the intersection of race and disabilities through this project. I knew the world of high-quality BIPOC authored books was small, they are there but it takes intentionality to find them. Finding books about BIPOCs and disabilities takes even more hunting. Carrie was very specific about the disabilities books she was looking for: first-person authored was best, no books featuring inspiration-porn, and no books about death, bonus points for authors of color. We found a few books by disabled people of color, but overall this genre is exceedingly slim.

We also wanted to invest money into BIPOC businesses. I knew of Mahogany Books– Black owned, Birchbark Books– Native American-Ojibwe owned, and Kinokuniya– Asian owned bookstores. I placed orders at these stores. I also found Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse a Black-owned comic bookstore, and Heidi shared Duende District Bookstore a Latinx owned bookstore. By ordering through these bookstores and browsing their curated collections I found a lot of new titles. It also felt great to place orders into these BIPOC owned businesses, magnifying the impact of this project into an economic justice one as well. I ordered some of the books from the mega-online-store because they carried books on disabilities that I couldn’t find in other places. A gap in the market is a bookseller focused on disabilities justice and/or having BIPOC booksellers stock more books about disabilities.

We’re set to deliver books to schools next week. On one of our many snow days, I involved my kids in the project by having them help me sort the books to give to schools. The books are now boxed and in a precariously tall pile awaiting delivery. Thank you to many who contributed. I’m sharing the story because it has been fun and I owe the story to those who contributed – while it started as Carrie and my birthday project it now belongs to many others who shared in the project. With much much thanks and gratitude back to all of you who contributed and cheered it on. Thank you for sharing my birthday with me and so many others – mahalo nui loa.

The Booklist

Finally, the booklist! Several people have asked to see the list of books donated. I haven’t read all of these, but I look forward to reading my way through the list. The list isn’t sorted and it has a mix of books for various ages on it. The notations are my best guess, apologies if I mislabeled any. Enjoy.

  • The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C. Pérez -BIPOC – Latinx
  • The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida , KA Yoshida, et al. – POC- Asian / Disability-Autism
  • Black Girl Mania, by Bria Royal – BIPOC – African American / Black
  • Proud to be Deaf, by Lilli Beese – Disability – Deaf (note this is about British Sign Language)
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
  • Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates – BIPOC – African American/Black
  • Black Panther Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith – BIPOC – African American/Black
  • Hush, by Minfong Ho -BIPOC Asian – Thai*
  • Heart Berries, by Therese Mailhot – BIPOC/Disabled – Native American / Mental Illness*
  • You’re Welcome Universe, by Whitney Gardner – Disability – Deaf
  • A Boy and a Jaguar, by Alan Rabinowitz and Catia Chien – BIPOC illustrator / Disability
  • A Splash of Red, by Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet – Disability, features a physically disabled African American artist*
  • Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille, by Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov – Disability – Blind*
  • Ghost, by Raina Telgemeier – Disability – Sibling relationship (graphic novel)*
  • BINGO Love, by Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge – BIPOC African American/Black, Queer (graphic novel)
  • My Friend Isabelle, by Eliza Woloson, Bryan Gough – Disability – Down Syndrome
  • 12 Months of the Year (Chinese), by Ms Jane C Thai – BIPOC – Asian, Chinese
  • Beacon Hill Boys, by Ken Mochizuki – BIPOC – Asian
  • Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña, BIPOC- Latinx*
  • Ugly, by Robert Hoge- Disability
  • The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui- BIPOC – Asian- Vietnamese*
  • Beauty is a Verb, The New Poetry of Disability, by Sheila Black – Disability
  • The Thank You Book, Elephant and Piggy (Chinese translation, requested by a teacher) by Mo Williems
  • Harry Potter (Chinese translation, requested by a teacher)
  • Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls – Disability – physical disability
  • El Deafo, by Cece Bell – Disability – Deaf*
  • Supersorda – El Deafo (Spanish), by Cece Bell -Disability – Deaf (Spanish)
  • What to Say Next, by Julie Buxbaum – Disability
  • Woke Baby, by Mahogany L. Browne, BIPOC – African American/Black (board book)*
  • All the Weight of Our Dreams On Living Racialized Autism, edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown, Disability – Autism
  • Blood Child, by Octavia E. Butler, BIPOC – African American/Black
  • Meet Yasmin, by Saadia Faruqi, BIPOC – Middle Eastern Pakistani*
  • Firebird, by Misty Copeland, BIPOC – African American/Black*
  • Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan, BIPOC Middle Eastern (Muslim religion focus)*
  • World of Wakanda, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, et al. – BIPOC – African American/Black
  • Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl, by Debbi Michiko Florence – BIPOC – Asian, Japanese*
  • The Epic Fail, by Pablo Cartaya – BIPOC – Latinx, Cuban
  • Hey Kiddo, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka – Disability
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo – BIPOC – African American/Black*
  • The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan and Tom Knight – BIPOC – African American/Black*
  • Ada and the Living Computers, by Elizabeth Dion
  • A Bike Like Sergio’s, by Maribeth Boelts and Noah Z. Jone
  • Jingle Dancer, by Cynthia Leitich Smith – BIPOC – Native American
  • Mina vs. the Monsoon, by Rukhsanna Guidroz and Debasmita Dasgupta – BIPOC – Asian, Indian
  • The Memory of Light, by Francisco X. Stork
  • Game of Silence, by Louise Erdrich – BIPOC – Native American*
  • Porcupine Years, by Louise Erdrich – BIPOC – Native American*
  • Birchbark House, by Louise Erdrich – BIPOC – Native American*
  • Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, BIPOC – Native American*
  • Maple Moon, by Connie Brummel Crook and Scott Cameron- BIPOC – Native American
  • We Rise: The Earth Guardians Guide to Building a Movement That Restores the Planet, by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Justin Spizman – BIPOC
  • Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories -BIPOC – Asian, Japanese
  • March, by Sen. John Lewis – BIPOC African American/Black*
  • Nelson Beat the Odds, by Ronnie Sidney II, Traci Wagoner -BIPOC African American/Black
  • Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha), by Tomi Adeyemi – BIPOC – African American/Black
  • I Am Enough, by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo – BIPOC – African American/Black*
  • Proud (Young Readers Edition): Living My American Dream, by Ibtihaj Muhammad -BIPOC Middle Eastern
  • Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison – BIPOC African American/Black*
  • Young Pele, by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome – BIPOC Latinx
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Chinese translation (requested by a teacher)
  • Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas – BIPOC Latinx
  • Exit West: A Novel, by Mohsin Hamid – BIPOC
  • The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead – BIPOC African American/Black
  • The Angel of History: A Novel, by Rabih Alameddine – BIPOC Middle Eastern
  • Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon – BIPOC African American/Black
  • The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson
  • A Separation, by Katie Kitamura – BIPOC Asian
  • The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride – BIPOC African American/Black
  • A Tale for Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki – BIPOC Asian Japanese
  • Whereas, by Layli Long Soldier – BIPOC Native American
  • Home Fire, by Kamila Shamsie – BIPOC Middle Eastern Pakistani
  • The Mothers, by Brit Bennett – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Invisible Man
  • Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, by Kathleen Collins – BIPOC African American/Black
  • My Fox, by Helen Oyeyemi – BIPOC Asian
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • A Lucky Man, by Jamel Brinkley
  • The Hate You Give, by Angie Thomas – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Brazen, by Pénélope Bagieu
  • Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 2 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, by Gene Luen Yang- BIPOC Asian
  • Black Panther: Long Live the King (Marvel Premiere Graphic Novel) by Nnedi Okorafor and Andre Araujo – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Sam Sorts, by Marthe Jocelyn
  • Imagine, by Juan Felipe Herrera- BIPOC Latinx*
  • The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls
  • The US Civil Rights Movement for Disabilities, by Baby Professor – Disabilities
  • Darius the Great Is Not Ok by Adib Khorram – BIPOC – Middle Eastern
  • Dreamers CD, by Yuyi Morales BIPOC Latinx
  • Short, by Holly Goldberg Sloan – Disabilities
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama -BIPOC African American/Black*
  • Rain of Gold, by Victor Villasenor – BIPOC Latinx
  • The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neill
  • Batman: Nightwalker, by Marie Lu, BIPOC Asian
  • An African-American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz -BIPOC Latinx/AA
  • Crux: A Cross-Border: Memoir by Jean Guerrero – BIPOC Latinx – Disability*
  • Puerto Rico Strong, by Various Artist, BIPOC Latinx
  • Frida Kahlo, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Gee Fan Eng, BIPOC Latinx – Disability*
  • 47 Strings, by Becky Carey – Disabilities, Down Syndrome
  • Dog Man (Spanish translation, requested by a teacher)
  • Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt – Disabilities
  • Mia Lee is wheeling through school, by Melissa Shang – BIPOC Asian / Disabilities
  • Invisible Emmie, by Terri Libenson- Disabilities
  • Where’s Halmoni?, by Julie Kim- BIPOC Asian – Korean*
  • The To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han – BIPOC Asian – Korean
  • All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir, by Nicole Chung – BIPOC Asian – Korean
  • We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Claudette Colvin, by Phillip Hoose – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Birmingham Sunday, by Larry Dane Brimner- BIPOC African American/Black
  • How We Are Smart, W. Nikola-Lisa – BIPOC African American/Black
  • If the World Were a Village, by David J. Smith and Shelagh Armstrong
  • Lincoln’s Way, by Patricia Polacco
  • Enrique’s Journey, by Sonia Nazario
  • Freedom Rides Journey for Justice
  • Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper
  • Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure by Naomi C. Rose
  • Kid Caramel
  • Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic – BIPOC Asian
  • It’s Shoe Time, by Bryan Collier – BIPOC African American/Black
  • Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai – BIPOC Asian
  • There There, by Tommy Orange – BIPOC Native American
  • Baro Tirinta Af Soomaaliga: Learn to Count In Somali (Somali Edition), by various authors – BIPOC/Black – Somali (bilingual)*
  • Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis-  BIPOC African American/Black – LGBTQ*

*Books Erin recommends

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