Birthday Book Drive 2022

Stack of books in front of a globe

Tomorrow, 2 April 2022 is the start of Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak.

This is one of my favorite blog posts of the year to assemble. For the past few years, Carrie (frequent guest blogger and fellow February birthday celebrant) and I host a birthday book drive – Reading for Pride and Justice.

The book drive started several years ago when I decided for my birthday I wanted to collect and donate new books by authors of color to public schools with diverse students and where new books are harder to come by. Carrie heard about the idea and we teamed up. It is a great match since Carrie added a focus on disability to the book drive. Books by authors with disabilities or about disabilities are greatly needed in our schools.

Carrie and I put out a soft ask on social media to our friends inviting them to participate. We had a wishlist of books we hoped to receive, people could also order from the Fakequity Bookshop link since they meet our criteria. Our criteria was broad but narrow – books had to be by authors of color, or about disabilities – ideally by authors with disabilities. Friends chose what books they wanted to donate and had them shipped to my house. This wasn’t just about money and books, friends contributed titles and their own stories of what books meant to them. I oohed and ahhed and sent Carrie pictures of the books as they arrived on my doorstep.

Wish you could have heard the squeal when they saw Crying in H Mart.”

I recently read a Book Riot article talking about why students need to read contemporary books, not just the classics. New books can help students make sense of their world now and prompt conversations that are happening to them now. Classics are important too, but sometimes students need to warm up to them.

Well read books at an elementary school

Carrie and I also ask for donations of new books because students deserve crisp new books with unbroken spines. Many of the books in my kid’s elementary school library are so well-read they are held together with tape. I love opening a new book and feeling the joy of knowing I’m the first one to gently crack that spine. The librarian at a local high school sent us an email saying “Thank you again for the quality books for our students! Wish you could have heard the squeal when they saw Crying in H Mart.” What I took away from that comment is students know about these new books and want to read them – now they can.

Books offer students tools to see themselves and envision new possibilities, empathize, and learn how to think differently. Many teachers use diverse books to introduce new concepts, provide students with new ways of relating to the world around them, and sometimes for pure enjoyment. Books won’t solve racism, end wars, or solve ills – they do give kids tools to feel understood and to build new neural pathways to understanding, empathizing, learning new skills. This is why diverse books matter. Reading about different experiences and understanding disabilities and POC experiences lets us envision what justice can be. We have to put in the work to create that justice. This is one of my small actions to create space for more justice to flourish — sharing books with students, most of whom I will never meet. They deserve a more just world and they have to create it for themselves and maybe an idea they read or a picture they see in a book will spark a new idea for them.

Book Delivery Day

Books in front of Wing Luke Elementary with glam shot stars imposed on the picture

We collected a lot of books, so many fun new books. My kids helped me create book bundles for school libraries and a few teachers. Each bundle had about 10-25 books. This year we reserved two of the elementary school bundles for a first- and a second-year POC elementary school teachers to help them build their classroom libraries. I know of one elementary school teacher who spent $600 of her own money to buy books for her classroom.

Book delivery day is one of my favorite days of the year. Carrie and I load up my car and drive a big loop of Southeast Seattle to deliver books. We got buzzed into school buildings, met office staff, walked through a swarm of middle schoolers during passing period, this year we got lost in a few buildings looking for front doors. After the deliveries, we got lunch from a local POC restaurant. It was a great day.

The Book List

Here is the list of books donated and shared with schools. The notes about the book are my own and apologies if I erred on race/ethnicity of any of the authors. If you have ever purchased a book starting with Fakequity’s affiliate link, the proceeds help to fund this book drive. I use the profits to purchase books to ensure diversity in our donations.

The books listed range from elementary age to adult. I hope you find some new books to read or share with children in your lives.

The Secret SkyAbawi, AtiaMiddle East
Clap When You LandAcevedo, ElizabethLatine
White RageAnderson, CarolBlack/African American
One Person No Vote, YA AdaptationAnderson, CarolBlack/African American
Too Small TolaAtinukeBlack/African American
Disability Studies and the Inclusive ClassroomBaglieri, SusanMixX
The Stars Beneath Our FeetBarclay Moore, DavidBlack/African AmericanX
We Ride Upon SticksBarry, QuanBlack/African American
What Do You Do With a Voice Like ThatBarton, Chris and Ekua HolmesBlack/African American
All the Way to the TopBay Pimentel, AnnetteWhiteX
El DeafoBell, CeceWhiteX
Until I am Free Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to AmericaBlain, Keisha N.Black/African American
How to Love a CountryBlanco, RichardLatine
Firekeeper’s DaughterBoulley, AngelineNative / Indigenous
Pushing Up the Sky – Seven Native American Plays for ChildrenBruchac, JosephNative / Indigenous
A Splash of RedBryant, JenX
Six Dots: A Story of a Young Louis BrailleBryant, JenWhiteX
Mindful MovesCardoza, NicoleBlack/African American
The School for Good and EvilChainani, SomanAsian
Shirley Chisholm is a verbChambers, VeronicaBlack/African American
Finish the FightChambers, VeronicaBlack/African American
JukeboxChanani, NidhiAsian
Hair LoveCherry, MatthewBlack/African American
The Ocean Calls A Haenyeo Mermaid StoryCho, TinaAsian
Seeing Ghosts – A MemoirChow, KatAsian
Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten RingsChow, MarieAsian
When We Say Black Lives MatterClarke, Maxine BenebaBlack/African American
What We Lose – A NovelClemmons, ZinziBlack/African American
Black PantherCoates, Ta-NehisiBlack/African American
The Matter of Black LivesCobb, Jelani and David RemnickBlack/African American
Restorative Circles in SchoolsCostello, Bob & WachtelMix
New KidCraft, JerryBlack/African American
Class ActCraft, JerryBlack/African American
Maria Tallchief, She PersistedDay, ChristineNative / Indigenous
I Can Make This PromiseDay, ChristineNative / Indigenous
The Sea in WinterDay, ChristineNative / Indigenous
The Day Abuelo Got Lostde Anda, DianeLatineX
Lovede la Peña, MattLatine
Animals – BrailleDK BrailleX
This Place 150 Years RetoldElliott, AliciaNative / Indigenous
The Range EternalErdrich, LouiseNative / Indigenous
Girl, Woman, OtherEvaristo, BernardineBlack/African American
UnsettledFaruqi, ReemMiddle East
Yasmin – The ExplorerFaruqi, SaadiaAsian
Yasmin – The SuperheroFaruqi, SaadiaAsian
ManuFernández, KellyLatine
Just Be Cool Jenna SakaiFlorence, Debbi MichikoAsian
The Sea-Ringed World Sacred Stories of the AmericasGarcía Esperón, MaríaNative / Indigenous
RosaGiovanni, NikkiBlack/African American
Make Me Rain: Poems & ProseGiovanni, NikkiBlack/African American
This Is My Brain in LoveGregorio, I. W.AsianX
Tiger HonorHa Lee, YoonAsian
Dragon PerarlHa Lee, YoonAsian
Cook KoreanHa, RobinAsian
The 1619 ProjectHannah-Jones, NikoleBlack/African American
The 1619 Project Born on the WaterHannah-Jones, Nikole and Renée WatsonBlack/African American
A Face for PicassoHenley, ArielWhiteX
Sal & Gabi Break the UniverseHernandez, CarlosLatine
She’s Got ThisHernandez, LaurieLatine
ImagineHerrera, Juan FelipeLatine
ImaginaHerrera, Juan FelipeLatine
All About Love: New Visionshooks, bellBlack/African American
We Rise We Resist We Raise Our VoicesHudson, Wade and Cheryl Willis HudsonMix
DisplacementHughes, KikuAsian
Read This to Get Smarter about Race, Class, Gender, Disability & MoreImani, BlairBlack/African AmericanX
we are never meeting in real life.Irby, SamanthaBlack/African American
wow no thank youIrby, SamanthaBlack/African American
Good Talk A Memoir in ConversationsJacob, MiraLatine
When Stars Are ScatteredJamieson, Victoria and Omar MohamedBlack/African AmericanX
Crip KinshipKafai, ShaydaMiddle EastX
When Breath Becomes AirKalanithi, PaulAsian
The Most Beautiful Thing – Chinese translationKalia Yang, KaoAsianX
Notable Native PeopleKeene, AdrienneNative / Indigenous
When You Trap a TigerKeller, TaeAsian
Song for a WhaleKelly, LynneWhiteX
The Arabic QuiltKhalil, AyaMiddle East
Under My HijabKhan, HenaMiddle East
Last Fallen StarKim, GraciAsian
And Now I Spill the Family SecretsKimball, MargaretX
Demystifying DisabilityLadau, EmilyWhiteX
My Shoes and I Crossing Three BordersLaínez, René ColatoLatine
Measuring UpLaMotte, Lily and Ann XuAsian
Midsummer’s MayhemLaRocca, RajaniAsian
Long Division – A NovelLaymon, KieseBlack/African American
Draw TogetherLe, MinhAsian
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year ParadeLee, LylaAsian
RunLewis, Rep. JohnBlack/African American
Show Me a SignLeZotte, Ann ClareWhiteX
A New Year’s ReunionLi-Qiong, Yu and Cheng-Liang, ZhuAsian
When the Sea Turned to SilverLin, GraceAsian
ElatsoeLittle Badger, DarcieNative / Indigenous
I found it! A bilingual look and find book — Simplified Chinese, Pinyin, and EnglishLiu, KatrinaAsian
RulesLord, CynthiaWhiteX
Very Large Expanse of SeaMafi, TaherehMiddle East
A Soft Place to LandMarks, JanaeBlack/African American
A Soft Place to LandMarks, JanaeBlack/African American
Moving to Higher Ground How Jazz Can Change Your LifeMarsalis, WyntonBlack/African American
Baby Sitter’s Club #2 Truth About Stacy (Graphic Novel)Martin, AnnWhiteX
Baby Sitter’s Club #16 Jessi’s Secret LanguageMartin, Ann M.WhiteX
Jessi’s Secret Language – Baby Sitters ClubMartin, Ann M.WhiteX
Claudia and Mean Janine- Graphic novelMartin, Ann M.WhiteX
The Sum of Us What Racism Costs EveryoneMcGhee, HeatherBlack/African American
Cerci Suárez Changes GearsMedina, MegLatine
Hair TwinsMirchandani, RaakheeMiddle East
Medicine StoriesMorales, AuroraLatineX
Everything Sad is UntrueNayeri, DanielMiddle East
My RainbowNeal, DeShannaBlack/African AmericanX
Itzhak A Boy Who Loved the ViolinNewman, TracyWhiteX
The Magic FishNguyen, Trung LeAsian
Beautifully MeNoor, NabelaAsian
This is What America Looks LikeOmar, IlhanBlack/African American
All Over CreationOzeki, RuthAsian
The Art of Sanjay’s Super TeamPatel, SanjayAsian
Dumpling SoupRattigan, Jama KimAsian
Miles Morales: Spider ManReynolds, JasonBlack/African American
Juliet Takes A BreathRivera, GabbyLatine
Juliet Takes A BreathRivera, GabbyLatine
Never Look BackRivera, LilliamLatine
Filipino Celebrations A Treasury of Feasts and FestivalsRomulo, LianaAsian
I am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterSánchez, Erika L.Latine
Ani’s LightSingh, Tanu ShreeAsianX
My Heart Fills With Happiness – SpanishSmith, Monique GrayNative / Indigenous
Just AskSotomayor, Justice SoniaLatineX
My Beloved WorldSotomayor, SoniaLatineX
The Complete Maus*Spiegelman, ArtNot POC but included since it was recently banned
Artie and the Wolf MoonStephens, Olivia
Yayoi Kusama — From Here to InfinitySuzuki, SarahAsianX
Baby Sitter’s Club Claudia and Mean Janine Graphic NovelTelgemeier, RainaWhiteX
Guts – SpanishTelgemeir, RainaWhiteX
Stone River CrossingTingle, TimNative / Indigenous
When a Ghost Talks, ListenTingle, TimNative / Indigenous
Beyond the Gender BinaryVaid-Menon, Alok
The Running DreamVan Draanen, WedelinWhiteX
The Undocumented AmericansVillavicencio, Karla CornejoLatine
The Black Panther Party – Graphic Novel HistoryWalker, David and Marcus Kwame AndersonBlack/African American
The Princes and the DressmakerWang, JenAsian
Navigate Your StarsWard, JesmynBlack/African American
Other Words for HomeWarga, JasmineMiddle East
Taino TalesWeber, VickyLatine
One Crazy SummerWilliams-Garcia, RitaBlack/African American
Disability Visibility – Young Adult versionWong, AliceAsianX
The Blossoming Universe of Violet DiamondWoods, BrendaBlack/African American
Harbor MeWoodson, JacquelineBlack/African American
The Year We Learned to FlyWoodson, JacquelineBlack/African American
I Can Fly in the Sky, A Story of Friends, Flight and Kites — Told in English and ChineseXin, LinAsian
The Vanderbeekers of 141st StYan Glaser, KarinaAsian
A Map Into the WorldYang, KaoAsian
Room to DreamYang, KellyAsian
3 KeysYang, KellyAsian
Séance Tea PartyYee, RAsian
The Legend of Auntie PoYin Khor, ShingAsian
Crying in H MartZauner, MichelleAsian
The People RememberZoboi, IbiBlack/African American
My Life as an Ice Cream SandwichZoboi, IbiBlack/African American
All We Can Save Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate CrisisMix
Art of Protest

Here is a link to a Google spreadsheet with the list of books. Carrie is good about reminding me that tables are not always screen-reader friendly. Many of these books are included in the Fakequity Bookshop.

A short message from a teacher:

“Several students chose to read from the collection of books today during our independent reading time.

We read and performed a class play from Pushing Up the Sky [Native American short plays] earlier this year, so one student excitedly grabbed that book and asked if we could perform another play. His group’s reading goal is to grow in their fluency, so he is now choosing a play for his group to practice performing together. He also has dreams of being an actor, so you have helped make many a dream grow in here already.”

Finally, a thank you to our 30+ friends and family members who donated books, funds, titles, and joy to this birthday celebration project. By the numbers: 183 books, 9 schools reaching over 1,000 students (maybe more). I hope you will find ways to do your own projects like this to support students in your communities. One friend mentioned she asked friends to donate a book instead of a birthday present for her kid’s toddler age birthday. Even if it is just requesting your public library stock more books by authors of color, authors with disabilities, that is a good start to helping students discover new diverse books.

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