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Literary Activism

Action Item: Building Classroom Libraries in NC, OH, and PA

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.

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!

Onto this week’s classrooms.

Stuff The Shelves With Books Worth Reading, Charlotte, NC

We dedicate at least two hours of our day to focusing all each component of literacy in the classroom! It may seem like a lot of time, but 120 minutes flies by when reading and writing are the focus. Each day we focus on a specific reading skill as a whole group on the carpet, but then students have the opportunity to select a book and work on that skill independently.

I can feel the love of reading growing in my classroom, and a new set of classroom library books would help ensure that that passion keeps growing!

By exposing my students to a variety of different genres, they’ll be able to practice the reading skills we’re working on with multiple different texts that interest them! This will help prepare them for higher-level learning as well as building the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.

By supporting this project, you would be helping me add over a hundred new books to our classroom library. Students will have access to these books during the school day, but they’ll also be check them out over night so they never have to worry about needing reading matierals at home. The books I have chosen cover multiple different reading levels and interests do every student will be able to find numerous books that they’ll be able to enjoy.

It’s said that the world belongs to those that read and trust me when I say that my classroom of learners deserve the world!


Classroom Books!, West Milton, OH

To get my students more excited and interested in reading for fun, I need to seriously update my Adolescent/Young Adult book collection.

Every study shows that the more a student reads, the more successful they are in the classroom, on tests, and in their post-secondary education.

It is a no-brainier that simply having students read weekly is an important job for any English teacher. Each nine weeks, my students are responsible for reading a book of their choice (on top of the texts read as a class). Your donation will allow for me to have a larger range of choices available to my students. From books like _UnBroken_ that spark students’ interest in determination and war to _Hillbilly Elegy_ that is set less than one hour from our school, I hope we can offer my students books to inspire and connect them to the world around them.

While my classics may interest a few students, the larger amount of my students do not choose to read for fun. I need books that will reach out to them and their interests. From survival books to books that explore teen-specific issues, I need it all! Help me create readers for life!


YA Lit Needed To Make Life-Long Learners, Philadelphia, PA

By providing my students will a classroom set of the Young Adult novel, The Hate You Give, you will help hook my students on good reading. Too often inner city students are forced to read the canons or young adult literature written for a white, middle-class audience. Unfortunately, these choices can turn students off to reading altogether. Not that my students can’t comprehend and learn from age-old texts, but the harm of shutting them off to reading can often outweigh the good.

The Hate You Give is a “tragically timely” piece which will be unavoidably relevant to my students.

Focusing on the story of a girl caught between worlds, Starr finds herself the only witness in a nationally highlighted injustice: her black, male friend is shot by a cop. Starr’s journey reflects a relatable coming of age journey for modern teenagers raised in a black, urban environment. The book touches on timeless themes and uses truly impressive literary techniques to hook the reader.

Help me provide relatable, powerful literature for my students to fall in love with reading. Help me create a generation of life-long readers.