Three local school districts are about to start diversifying their classroom literature.
Pop the Bubble, an organization that empowers children to embrace diversity through education, empathy and action, has partnered with Pages bookstore in Manhattan Beach to provide Manhattan Beach Unified School District, El Segundo Unified and Hermosa Beach City School District with class resources more representative of all students.
Redondo Beach Unified respectfully declined to join as that district is setting up its own equality committee, said Allison Hales, a Pop the Bubble board member and Manhattan Beach resident. RBUSD said it was interested in being involved in future initiatives, said Hales.
The initiative, Read it Like you Mean it, aims to fill local elementary and middle schools classrooms with books more reflective of diverse student voices.
To start, Pages has identified three children’s books that support critical conversations on anti-racism and social justice:
- "Sulwe,” a picture book on colorism and self-esteem, by Lupita Nyong’o, the first Kenyan and
Mexican actress to win an Academy Award;
- “The Undefeated,” by Kwame Alexander, an ode to Black American triumph and tribulation; and
- "We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices," by Wade Hudson, an anthology of poems, essays and art by children's authors and illustrators exploring the question: "What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant?"
Pop the Bubble is trying to raise $10,000 by Sept. 30, the last day of National Literacy Month. Donations made on Pop the Bubble’s website will go toward distributing books in local schools that support diversity and inclusion. All the books for the schools will be purchased from the local, woman-owned bookstore.
The organization's goal is to educate young people to connect and reflect on perspectives and life experiences different from their own.
On top of the books, teachers will also receive lesson plans that will help them engage in thoughtful discussions with their students, giving educators a more rounded idea of how to connect with students of all backgrounds.
"The book drive is directly aligned with our efforts to bring diverse literature, voices and stories into our classrooms in order to promote inclusive learning environments for our students," Melissa Moore, Superintendent of El Segundo Unified wrote by email. "These books will further support educating our students to build a more just and compassionate world moving forward."
"I appreciate that they're thinking about how to make initiatives for greater diversity and understanding the dynamics of what's happening in the classroom," said Jason Johnson, Superintendent of Hermosa Beach City School District. Pop the Bubble is being "more strategic about what's going into classroom libraries."
"It's a good step (in) figuring out ways to get involved and support this movement (and it's) something districts can do easily," Johnson added.
Phase two of the book drive, Share it Like you Mean it, from Oct. 1-31, will ask businesses to match the previous month's donations to increase availability of literature in under-served schools.
To donate to the fundraiser, visit popthebubble2020.com.