Literary Activism

Action Item: Funding Classroom Literacy Projects in WI, GA, and AZ

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!

And now, our classrooms of the week! I’ve pulled three, with a total need under $1000.

First up: the project I’ve shared a couple of times but still needs a little more to be funded completely. Let’s make this the week it happens, so the kids can get their awesome new bookmobile books as the summer season begins.


Bookmobile 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.


We LOVE New Books, Macon, GA

My Students

My students are simply the best! They enter school each day ready to learn, they are full of excitement and energy. My students are like sponges, they soak up anything I throw their way. Our favorite part of the day is reading on our carpet!

I teach amazing children that are full of energy!

Having new books to read in Kindergarten is the best! I’m always looking for newly released books that go along with our themes. Recently, I have found monster books to start the new school year off with. I have also found some amazing seasonal books which will be fun to wrap up, open and read starting in December. It’s true, if a child hears it, sees it and does it, they will remember it!

My Project

It is with great pleasure that I am able to sit and choose some amazing books for my classroom. This new request are for some books I can use at the beginning of the new school year with and use around the holidays.

It always amazes me how quiet children become when they are read too.

A great book engages, connects and allows us to go anywhere we want. Books allow children to visualize and make predictions. Often books take us on a journey that we would not otherwise have gone. Books in Kindergarten are where is all begins for a child. There’s no better time than Kindergarten to introduce books and teach reading. This is where is all begins to mold that solid foundation our kids need.


New Materials For A Fresh Start, Phoenix, AZ

My Students

I feel so lucky to have such a great group of students for my first year of teaching! Every day, I see signs of passion for learning from them, whether it’s asking if they can write a story when they’re done with an assignment, or excitedly telling me they are reading a book with over 300 pages in it!

My students have developed positive attitudes inspired by the desire to reach their goals.

It seems that almost every day I see new evidence of growth. They are always encouraging and helping each other and finding new ways to help make for an even better classroom, school, and community environment. Years from now, when I look back on my first year of teaching, I will be doing so with a smile on my face- no matter what the numbers look like- because I had such a thoughtful and caring group of students whom I will never forget for the best reasons possible.

My Project

I’ve decided to get a head start on ordering supplies for this next school year. These materials will allow me to better teach next year’s students reading, writing, and grammar skills.

2017-2018 will be my second year teaching, so I now have a better idea of what I will want for my students.

The writing book provides for me 180 days of more specific, broken-down instruction. The grammar resource will make note-taking more interesting and interactive for students.

Finally, I am very excited to try out a novel study next year! We will read Charlotte’s Web in full, rather than just the excerpt that’s included in the current reading resource. I am very excited to try new things this coming school year!