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Posted on Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Books can open doors to new ideas, thoughts, and worlds for children. While books can expand their understanding of the world, most children’s books fail to represent our current world.

Studies show that only 30 percent of children’s books in the US depict characters that belong to a minority group. Children need to read books that mirror their identities and experiences to have a positive sense of self. It is also vital for children to read about experiences that are different from theirs, so they can learn how to empathize with others.

In an effort to increase cultural competency and promote a sense of belonging for children, United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes’ Circulo Latino Society hosted a Multicultural Book Drive to collect diverse and inclusive children’s literature to benefit local nonprofits.

The book drive, which ran from September 15 through October 15 in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, collected nearly 400 books. Five area businesses set up collection boxes at their workplace. Individuals were also able to purchase and donate books online, and from five local bookstores. The books were distributed across 30 United Way partner agencies that serve children of all ages.

“Having books with stories and images that represent the children and families we serve is critical,” said Jessica Kingsley, Community Services Division Executive Director, YMCA of Greater Rochester (one of the recipient agencies). “It’s important that our youth see themselves in literature, and we are grateful for the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes for helping make that a possibility.”

It takes all of us to create a more equitable community. This book drive was one of the many United Way initiatives that address the existing disparities in our focus area of education.

Thanks to everyone who donated to the book drive and helped stock the shelves at local nonprofits with inclusive multicultural literature. 

A special thanks to the following businesses and bookstores for participating in the drive:

Looking to create your own inclusive library? Check out the following resources created with the help of the Rochester Education Foundation and Dr. Amy Shema, Brockport University.