Literary Activism

Action Item: A Summer Book Mobile For Middle Schoolers and Activism History for Young Readers

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!

The first classroom comes from my own area in southern Wisconsin, and reading the project, I couldn’t help but champion this. This project will be hugely meaningful to so many young readers and we can make this a reality for them (for surprisingly little money). The second classroom is in Philadelphia and will bring social justice into the hands of hungry, eager readers.


Bookmobile Expansion To Middle SchoolDelavan, Wisconsin

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 school 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.



Hooray for Our History: Culturally Relevant Books for Little Activists, Philadelphia, PA

“Do we have to leave?” Our students are funny, compassionate, and imaginative children that enjoy exploring new skills and developing their literacy skills. They attend an elementary school in the Kensington section of northern Philadelphia.

They are a thoughtful, loving, and hardworking bunch, excited to learn and grow. While they are motivated by their dreams and engaged by the opportunities presented to them, due to economic challenges within the community, school, and district, our resources are limited. As their teacher, I struggle to provide sufficient and enriching supplies that will support holistic learning. However, at our school, we are resourceful and do with what we have, but our students deserve and require more.

My Project

Our students are curious and are very much aware of social issues around them. They are invested in supporting their communities and can do so with more historical context from engaging and inviting texts. The books that I am requesting are both informational and narratives recounting pivotal aspects of American history and current events that are relevant to their lives.

These books will be a springboard for students to not only learn about history, but to inspire and inform their ability to actively participate in their community today and in their adult lives.Having access to these books will allow my students to use the texts to write informational pieces, and craft projects based on the influential people that they will be researching.