Read in Color: Little Free Library’s Diverse Books Initiative Comes to TULSA!

By Margret Aldrich

Announcing Read in Color Tulsa! The Little Free Library (LFL) nonprofit organization launched Read in Color today in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This marks the national rollout of the timely initiative, which brings diverse books to LFL book-sharing boxes to help grow understanding, equity, and inclusion.

Twenty-six new Little Free Libraries will be established at Tulsa schools, with the first unveiled at Eugene Field Elementary. The libraries are filled with books that provide perspectives on racism and social justice, and amplify BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other diverse voices.

We partnered with HarperCollins Publishers to bring Read in Color to Tulsa and four more cities this year: Washington, D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, and Phoenix. Additional Read in Color cities launching in 2021 are New York, Boston, Kalamazoo, Mich., and Ferguson, Mo. Generous support is being provided by the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa at the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and Scholastic.

“Little Free Library believes that sharing diverse author perspectives across our nation’s communities deepens empathy and awareness,” said LFL Executive Director Greig Metzger. “This task is large but when advocates join together, significant gains can be made.” 

“We are honored to be in Tulsa to launch the national rollout of Read in Color in collaboration with HarperCollins Publishers’ Read in Full Color and Scholastic Books’ The Power of Story,” he continued. “These robust, diverse book offerings combined with the local programming and placement assistance of Reading Partners Tulsa, will bring our Read in Color program to 26 local elementary schools this year. We are excited to mark the start of our national expansion with such great allies.”             

‘Reading in Color’ in Tulsa

A vital partner in Tulsa’s Read in Color rollout is Reading Partners, a nonprofit organization that tutors children in basic reading skills. Reading Partners Tulsa region participated in the planning and placement of the Little Free Libraries, and will help keep them filled with books. 

“At Reading Partners, we believe in the power of educational equity to interrupt systemic racism, poverty, and social inequality,” said Reading Partners Tulsa Executive Director Heather Kawlra. “To support our students’ development of lifelong literacy skills, Reading Partners is committed to initiatives like Read in Color that ensure culturally diverse books are accessible to our students, their families, and the greater community.”

As the Tulsa community commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, organizers of The Black Wall Street Legacy Festival support partnerships that are bringing resources to the community and amplifying voices that share similar experiences to local students.

“We’re so excited that through the Little Free Library and Reading Partners partnership students, families and the greater community will have more access to texts that feature diverse characters, cultures, and content,” said Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Founder of the Terence Crutcher Foundation and the Black Wall Street Memorial.

Thousands of Diverse Books

Over the next year, thousands of diverse books for early readers, middle and YA readers, and adults will be distributed throughout Tulsa’s new and existing Little Free Libraries. Books will be provided through our publishing partners or purchased through local bookstore Fulton Street Books.

“HarperCollins is thrilled to be partnering with Little Free Library in conjunction with our own ‘Read in Full Color’ initiative, which spotlights diverse creators and inclusive stories,” said Nellie Kurtzman, VP Marketing & Publicity, HarperCollins Children’s Publishing. “The books under our ‘Read in Full Color’ umbrella reflect the narratives of the young readers picking them up for the first time and serve as a reminder that these books are important, necessary, and in demand.”

Lizette Serrano, Scholastic’s VP Educational Marketing, said, “When Read in Color launched last year, we were honored to play a part to align with Scholastic’s initiative, ‘The Power of Story’. At its core, Read in Color will encourage book ownership in more communities and help to grow lifelong readers. Our joint effort in choosing the books that reflect the experiences of young readers of color will inspire them to be true to themselves, embrace who they are, and empower them to tell their own stories.”

To celebrate the Tulsa rollout, HarperCollins Publishers offered 100 copies of I Promise by LeBron James, with illustrations by Nina Mata, for a national giveaway. Artwork from I Promise, part of their “Read in Full Color” initiative, decorates the Tulsa Little Free Library unveiled today.

LFL’s national Read in Color initiative, which was introduced in Minneapolis last year in response to George Floyd’s murder, has four key components: 

  1. Read in Color pledge, allowing everyone to show their support for diverse books and access downloadable resources. 
  2. Little Free Library installations full of culturally relevant books, placed in high-need communities. 
  3. Free diverse books for applying LFL stewards, purchased from independent and BIPOC-owned bookstores when possible. 
  4. Recommended reading lists representing Black, Indigenous, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Latinx, Muslim, LGBTQ+ and other communities.

Get involved! Sign the Read in Color pledge!

May 27, 2021. Read the press release.

Little Free Library is grateful to our partners and collaborators for helping bring Read in Color to Tulsa.

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