‘Windows into other people’s worlds’: Diversity Commission donates books to local elementary schools

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    In an effort to promote a greater understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion among Edmonds youth, the City of Edmonds Diversity Commission has started the new year right with a substantial donation of children’s books to Edmonds elementary schools.

    Focusing on themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the books support the Edmonds School District’s mission to provide a more inclusive and equitable curriculum. They are intended to be available as resources for teachers, librarians and students to help inform, engage and encourage discussion.

    The first books were delivered to schools in January, and initial reaction from the students and staff has been overwhelmingly positive.

    “A few of our kids have already read some these titles,” said Westgate Principal Jennifer Braile. “What makes these books so great and so appealing is how they draw the students in by providing stories that relate to their personal experiences. It’s so important to be able see yourself in a book.”

    The idea to provide these books grew out of the Diversity Commission’s meeting last November as the commissioners were reviewing the year’s budget. Finding an unexpected positive balance of several hundred dollars,the group began exploring options of how best to use these funds to further the Diversity Commission’s mission.

    “A suggestion was made to purchase books related to diversity, equity and inclusion for local elementary schools, as had been done in other communities,” said Commissioner Anabel Hovig. “We hope these books will be a valuable and cherished resource for both students and teachers.”

    A small subgroup of commissioners, including Hovig and Commission Chair Diana White, took on the task of identifying books that would best meet this goal. The following six titles were vetted and accepted by the Edmonds School District and delivered to schools at the end of January.

    • Why am I me? – Paige Britt, Sean Qualls, Selina Alko
    • Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen – Debbi Michiko Florence
    • You Hold Me Up – Monique Gray Smith, Danielle Daniel
    • A Different Pond – Bao Phi
    • I Got the Rhythm – Connie Schofield-Morrison
    • We’re All Wonders – RJ Palacio

    Ten sets of books were purchased and delivered for use in libraries and classrooms of the following schools:

    • Sherwood Elementary
    • Westgate Elementary
    • Madrona K-8
    • Chase Lake community
    • Edmonds Elementary
    • Seaview Elementary
    • Maplewood k-8
    • College Place Elementary
    • Meadowdale Elementary
    • Edmonds Heights Elementary

    “By showing the range of diversity in our communities and lives, these books serve a critical role in preparing kids for the world they will inhabit,” said Westgate Librarian Teresa Wittman. “It’s going to be their world, and understanding and accepting the wide range of backgrounds, religions, ethnicity, and abilities of those with whom they come into contact will help them be more effective members of it. By providing windows into other people’s worlds, these books pave the way to their future.”

    — Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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