Portland Welcomes ‘Read in Color’ Initiative Sharing Diverse Books in Little Free Libraries

By Margret Aldrich

We are thrilled to bring the Read in Color diverse books initiative to Portland! In partnership with Positive Charge! PDX, a nonprofit striving to amplify kindness and build community, we held a launch event to celebrate 11 new diversity-focused Little Free Library installations throughout the Portland metro area.

“We are proud to work alongside such a community-centered organization like Positive Charge! PDX to improve book access and build community through the sharing of diverse books in Little Free Libraries,” said Shelby King, Director of Programs at LFL. “It is our hope that through these new libraries, books that provide perspectives on racism and social justice; celebrate BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other important voices; and incorporate experiences from all identities for all readers will make their way into the hands and homes of people all over the city.”

Through our Read in Color initiative, we donated the new Little Free Library book-sharing boxes—and 2,200 books to stock them—to PC! PDX’s Compassion Through Literature project. In total, Read in Color has shared 200 little libraries and nearly 40,000 diverse books across the country. Portland is the 13th city to bring Read in Color into the community.

Kids visit the new Read in Color Little Free Library at Leikam Brewing.

“Compassion Through Literature began with a simple idea: To encourage people to take a walk in someone else’s shoes, by sharing and reading diverse books in little lending libraries,” said Sallie Cohen of Positive Charge! PDX. “Our goal is to open hearts and increase understanding, compassion and tolerance for each other.”

The Read in Color launch event was held at family-friendly Leikam Brewing—the site of one of the new libraries. Other locations of the Read in Color Little Free Libraries include Congregation Shaarie Torah; Gresham Fire Department Station 72; Milieu Collective; Puppernickel, A Dog BaRkery; and several local residences.

Speakers included Valarie Pearce, an author, educator, and literacy activist who works as a WITS (Writers in the Schools) Teacher for Literary Arts; Sister Shiso Panda, a fully professed member of The Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Order of Benevolent Bliss; Stephen Green, COO of A Kids Company About; and Shelby King of LFL.

Author Valarie Pearce read her book A Bucket Full of Dreams at the launch event.

Rebecca Swindle, PhD, PFLAG Newberg, one of the new Little Free Library stewards, said, “Newberg youth deserve to be celebrated for their unique and colorful backgrounds, attributes, and qualities. We are so grateful to be chosen as recipients for CTL/Read in Color libraries and can’t wait to share diverse literature with our residents of all ages. We will continue to fight for equity and inclusion in Newberg, and we know that diverse books can be vital tools in helping young people feel connection, support, and pride.”

A young reader celebrates Read in Color with a jig!

Join us in celebrating diverse books! Sign the Read in Color pledge!

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