We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our Read in Color diverse-books initiative in New Orleans, in partnership with local organizations Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), the YMCA, and One Book One New Orleans. Through the initiative, 10 new Little Free Library book-sharing boxes will be established in high-impact areas and roughly 3,000 multicultural, inclusive books will be distributed to promote understanding, equity, and inclusion.
“YEP is excited to be a part of this community effort to get books about diverse characters and by BIPOC authors into the hands of residents all across the Greater New Orleans area,” said Jessica Irving-Marin, Director of YEP Educates, YEP’s adult education program, and LCSW. “Ensuring equal access to high-quality education is at the heart of our mission, so we are grateful to LFL for making representation and access a priority for our students.”
To celebrate the launch of the first Read in Color Little Free Library in New Orleans, a ribbon-cutting, special remarks, and book giveaway were held at YEP East Opportunity Center, 12000 Hayne Boulevard. Other Read in Color library locations will include Schaumburg Elementary School, The Ohm Well, local residences, and more.
“Little Free Library believes that everyone should have the opportunity to see themselves in the books that they read,” said LFL Executive Director Greig Metzger. “Personal relevance and connection empowers the reader. Diverse voices also provide insight on life experiences that are not like our own. Empathy is nurtured by awareness. But too often access to diverse books is limited.”
“Working with local organizations as a catalyst, Little Free Library hopes to expand resources through our Read in Color initiative,” Metzger continued. “In New Orleans we are honored to be working with the Youth Empowerment Project, the New Orleans YMCA, and One Book One New Orleans.”
Local partners shared this enthusiasm for the project. Amy E. Leggette, Director YMCA Educational Services, said, “YMCA educators and adult learners are thrilled about Little Free Libraries getting filled with books that represent the varied experiences of our Greater New Orleans community. In our work, literacy is not only a survival skill, but also a vital tool for imagining what is possible.”
Dr. Megan Holt, Executive Director One Book One New Orleans, said, “One Book One New Orleans is committed to making sure that readers from all walks of life have access to books. We’re so excited that Little Free Library’s Read in Color program shares that vision and is working with us to make New Orleans a more literate city, one book at a time.”
LFL’s Read in Color initiative in New Orleans was generously funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Penguin Random House, and a local private donor.
“The love of learning starts early in life and is cultivated when children can read stories of diversity, as well as, stories of experiences and people just like them,” said Deirdre Johnson Burel, senior program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We are proud to support Read in Color and their efforts to inspire learning in our children in New Orleans and make reading accessible to everyone.”
In March, LFL will work to share even more diverse books in the region as an official partner of the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University.
The Read in Color initiative has launched in 13 U.S. cities to date, from New York and Washington, D.C. to Atlanta and Phoenix, with plans for even greater expansion this year. More than 150 Read in Color Little Free Libraries and 30,000+ diverse books celebrating Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and other important voices have been shared so far. Learn more and sign the Read in Color pledge here!