In the Bay Area, Thousands of Diverse Books Flood Little Free Libraries

By Margret Aldrich

Finding inclusive, culturally relevant books to read just got easier in the Bay Area! Today we introduced our Read in Color diverse-books initiative in San Francisco in collaboration with Access Books Bay Area and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) African American Parent Advisory Council. Through the initiative, ten new Little Free Library book-sharing boxes will be established in high-impact areas and more than 2,000 diverse books will be distributed to promote understanding, equity, and inclusion.

“Access Books Bay Area is very excited to be partnering with Little Free Library and the SFUSD African American Parent Advisory Council to bring Read in Color to San Francisco!” said Amanda Collins, Executive Director, Access Books Bay Area. “San Francisco is an incredibly diverse city, so this opportunity to bring books that actually represent the lives and experiences of our students directly to their communities and neighborhoods is invaluable to us.” Don’t be fooled by San Francisco’s affluent reputation, Collins says; access to diverse books is sorely needed. 

“Despite being in a city with great wealth and opportunity, many of our families—and especially our families of color—get left behind, and our organizations are united in our efforts to ensure that every child in this city gets the access to high-quality reading materials that are culturally relevant and engaging to read that they deserve,” said Collins. “Thank you so much to Little Free Library for helping us bring this great resource into our communities here in San Francisco!”

The first of San Francisco’s Read in Color libraries, pictured above, stands at Bessie Carmichael Elementary, located in San Francisco’s Filipino cultural district. The school is home to the city’s only Tagalog language and Filipino culture immersion program. It serves 479 students, over 70% of whom are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and 89% of whom are children of color.

“Books provide access to possibility. They allow you an opportunity to see the world and all of its majestic beauty while also igniting curiosity for what is possible,” said Laticia Erving, African American Parent Advisory Council Program Manager. “Oftentimes the books our children have access to tell stories that don’t reflect them or their experiences, making it difficult for them to connect or even participate in the wonder that awaits them.” 

“For the past six years the African American Parent Advisory Council has committed ourselves to diversifying the literary offerings of our young people and their families,” Erving continued. “Teaming up with the Little Free Library Read In Color Initiative, Access Books Bay Area, and community partners across San Francisco, we just took our efforts to the next level! It’s time to tell our stories, celebrate diverse identities, and inspire young people to not only read in color, but live in color too!”   

To date the Read in Color initiative has launched in eleven U.S. cities, from New York and Washington, D.C. to Atlanta and Phoenix, with plans for 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 about Read in Color.

“The Little Free Library is going to be a great resource for our students. A number of our students love to read, and so having access to more books, the better, as it supports literacy for our students. Thank you very much! We are so very grateful!” says Catherine Calimquin, the steward of the Read in Color Little Free Library at Bessie Carmichael, pictured above.

Diverse Books Arrive in Oakland, Thanks to Stephen and Ayesha Curry

The first four Little Town Libraries were unveiled today at Franklin Elementary, Oakland Housing Authority, Room to Bloom, and Libraration Park.

Over the next year, the Eat. Learn. Play. (ELP) Foundation—brainchild of Stephen and Ayesha Curry—is establishing 150 “Little Town Library” book-sharing boxes in under-resourced areas across Oakland. More than 50,000 high-quality, inclusive books will be shared annually throughout the community libraries to help foster a love of reading.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry share books in a newly installed Little Town Library in Oakland. Image credit: Noah Graham for Eat. Learn. Play.

The project is truly a community effort. In attendance at the Franklin Elementary kick-off were the Currys, Little Free Library Executive Director Greig Metzger, the Oakland Literacy Coalition, Oakland Public Library, Black Cultural Zone, Good Tidings Foundation and other local partners. Each of the ELP Little Town Libraries will be registered with the LFL organization.

“It is an honor to be working with such great partners here in Oakland and across the Bay Area to expand book access, especially access to diverse and inclusive books,” said Metzger. “Our goal at Little Free Library is to build community, inspire readers and broaden book access. Only by walking hand in hand with community-based partners can this be achieved.”

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