It isn’t surprising to Krenice Roseman when she has trouble finding books with African American main characters. But it certainly is frustrating.
Two years ago, the attorney ran into the same problem while scouring a Chicago bookstore for a birthday gift for her niece. While she eventually found what she was looking for online, she couldn’t stop thinking about how her niece deserves representation, too. That’s what inspired Krenice and her future husband, Derrick Ramsey, to tackle this issue themselves.
A few weeks later, the couple started their nonprofit, Young, Black & Lit, through which they give out free books to schools and families across the city. The goal is to increase access to books that reflect and affirm black identity.
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“When a child sees themselves reflected in the books that they read, when the books are a mirror to them, they feel valued,” Krenice told CNN.
Starting out, Krenice and Derrick found it difficult to build their library, as publisher websites had no option to search for only African American books. But after spending countless hours combing through these catalogs and working with said publishers, adding to their collection has since become much easier.
This year, Young, Black & Lit kicked off a program that gives a book a month to low-income kindergartners throughout the school year, then five for the summer to schools in Evanston. Students in the program will have new titles to look forward to through the third grade!
So far, the pair have distributed more than 5,000 books through book fairs, community events, and tables set up in front of businesses. Not only are they making it easier for children to see themselves in what they read, but they’re helping low-income families build their own libraries!
What’s more, they’re also widening perspectives.
“It’s not only about seeing yourself in the books that you read, but being able to take a peek into the world of other children, who look different than you and experience life different than you,” Krenice added.
What a great way to empower and educate at the same time! The nonprofit relies on grants and donations to keep running, so consider chipping in here to put more books in the hands of deserving children.
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