Literary Activism

Action Item: A Bookmobile for Middle Schoolers and Crayons for Kindergarteners

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

Late last year, librarian Angie Manfredi took to Twitter with a challenge: How many classrooms in need could the book community fund over the course of one day? Other librarians and bloggers and authors and industry folk joined in, and it quickly became apparent that there were a whole lot of people out there just itching to do some good, whether by spreading the word or opening their wallets or both.

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!

Let’s get to the classrooms.

First up: since we didn’t completely fund this one a couple of weeks ago, how about we finish it up this week?


Book Mobile Expansion to Middle School, Delavan, WI

P. Middle School is home to nearly 500 students in grades 6-8 who are “beating the odds” when it comes to academic success! Our school district student body is rich in its diversity as it reflects the makeup of the surrounding communities.

From an early age, our students are exposed to a variety of ethnic backgrounds languages and cultures different than their own.

Our student body is about 48.2 percent Latino, 46.6 percent Caucasian and 2.0 percent Black. 77 percent of our students are categorized by the state as economically disadvantaged, 23.8 percent have limited English proficiency(*2015-16 statistics).

My Project

Over the past few years, the district has driven a bookmobile around our district once per week in the summer, delivering books and popsicles to elementary students. In the area of reading, the best way to ensure that students are not losing the skills that they learned all year at school is to give them continuous opportunities to practice. Students borrow a few books each week and exchange them the following week. Stops tend to be at local parks and within densely populated neighborhoods. We will have seven stops on Thursday afternoons and into the early evening for eight weeks, from mid-June through mid-August.

This grant would allow us to expand the program to include middle schools students, in grades six through eight.

This year we have also partnered with Feeding America, so, instead of popsicles, we will be providing kids with hearty snacks/sack lunches. We are a high poverty district, so being able to provide hungry kids with food and something to read is important to helping ensure that our students enjoy a safe, productive summer.



The second project asks for exceptionally basic supplies to help students in the new school year start with the best materials possible.


Super Supplies To Start, Minneapolis, MN

Our students attend a Title I school. We are an inner city charter school which was recently named a Priority school. The students come each morning with smiles on their faces and stories and hugs to share.

The kindergarten students are like ocean sponges.

They want to soak up knowledge and new experiences. They are ready to learn as much as they can. By the time they walk into school, they have overcome the struggles of poverty, broken homes and homelessness. Our charter school strives to meet all needs of our learners. We are a small school with big futures.

My Project

The kindergarten students will use the crayons every day. We are a Daily 5 school so they write in their journals each day. As beginning writers, that includes a detailed picture. We will use the crayons for making beautiful pictures to write about. We will use the crayons to complete worksheets and art projects. We need folders to take our work home and bring important papers back to school.

By getting new Crayola crayons the students will be able to have crayons that show true colors in their work.

They won’t have to use broken stubs every day. The new plastic folders will protect their work so it can be taken home.