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Literary Activism

Action Item: Basic Human Needs in CA and MN

Leila Roy

Staff Writer

After a lengthy stint as a children's bookseller, Leila Roy took a step sideways into the library world. There, she does the same thing she did as a bookseller—matching people with stories in any and all formats, whether print, audio, film, comic, or some newfangled hybrid—but doesn't have to deal with changing the tape on the cash register. She lives in Maine with her husband, where she runs her small-town library and occasionally tries to rescue wildlife from her cat, who is a murderer. In addition to talking books at her long-running blog, Bookshelves of Doom, she's a weekly columnist at Kirkus Reviews. Blog: Bookshelves of Doom Twitter: @bkshelvesofdoom

On Inauguration Day, we (we being Kelly Jensen and Leila Roy) put together a list of classrooms in need, with a focus on classrooms that served immigrant, refugee, and ESL communities. With the help of Book Twitter, every single one of those classrooms was fully funded by the end of the day. Since then, every Friday, we’ve continued to highlight and advocate for similar classrooms, and again and again Book Twitter has come through.

Now, we’re bringing our Fund ‘Em Fridays to you, the Book Riot Community. Please boost, donate if you can, or even pick out a classroom to personally champion!

This week, I’m focusing on projects that are designed to help students with some of their more basic needs: clean clothes, a comfortable classroom temperature, and a warm and dry walk to and from school.

All three of these classrooms serve largely low-income populations—two of them serve a good number of homeless or highly mobile students—and the students range in age from third graders to seniors in high school.

Help Us Breathe in Our Classroom, in San Francisco, CA:

My students need a fan/heater because we need to maintain a well-tempered room to learn. Our classroom is extremely hot by midday where students literally sweat, feel nauseated, and can’t focus during class.

Rain Ponchos for Students, in Hemet, CA:

Southern California is usually warm. As a result families are not prepared for winter and the weather. Many of our students do not have proper attire or protection from the elements. This project will help students ensure that they are kept warm and dry. The ponchos will be kept in the front office and will be available to those students that do not have umbrellas. We will be buying 400 ponchos and keeping them for the rainy season. Students will be able to access ponchos if there is need or if they forget an umbrella that day, they will be stay warm and protected.

Problem Solving Toward Success 2017- 2018!!!, in Minneapolis, MN:

My students need basic need and personal hygiene items along with food snacks while they are in transitional housing. Having basic needs supplies helps my students, many who are homeless highly/mobile, focus on academic success vs. worrying about hunger or hygiene issues (which our students are VERY sensitive about). When students have their basic needs met, they are more likely to participate and achieve in the school setting. They are more confident and willing to take risks in learning and in developing healthy relationships.

Note: Classroom #3 only has a few more days to meet its goal—can the Book Riot community make it happen?