Books open doors to other worlds and offer us glimpses of characters like and unlike ourselves. Seeing characters like ourselves is especially important for children. But not every class has access to inclusive books. With this in mind, Barbara Williams reached out to Random Acts to purchase LGBTQ+ inclusive books for high school classroom libraries.
The Importance of Books
This is Barbara Williams: She lives in Kansas City in the United States and is a member of Equality Kansas – an organization focused on ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
While talking to a group of LGBTQ+ teachers, the teachers brought up the importance of LGBTQ+ inclusive books in their classroom libraries. Sadly, many classroom libraries are missing these books. Barbara’s local school district has a diverse student population, and she realized how much-needed inclusive books were.
Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop from the Ohio State University stated, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”
Furthermore, inclusive books allow young people to learn about the lives of other students with different lived experiences.
First, Barbara reached out to Random Acts to apply for funding and to set her Act of Kindness in motion. Then, Barbara started her research. Which books should she get? And where should she purchase them? In the end, Barbara decided on a selection of books that represented a large group of the student population, both ethnically and racially.
The books were delivered to the schools in two different ways. Some were dropped off directly at the schools, and others were put in boxes to go through inner-school mail. Even before the delivery arrived, the teachers were ecstatic about the opportunity to get books for their classroom.
The books found their place in the classroom libraries, and Barbara began receiving emails thanking her for the books. Many messages expressed gratitude that someone recognized how important it was to make these books available to students. About half of the teachers receiving these books were part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves. It made them feel included and valued, too.
“We realized that giving books is a relatively simple thing to do, but it can have a lasting impact on those who receive them. I am so happy that I was able to provide books to teachers who want to make every child in their classroom feel welcome”, said Barbara.