Black History Month Book Drive promoting representation, awareness, literacy

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Feb 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-07 06:17:00-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids nonprofit is embracing Black history and characters through a book drive.

D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s says its goal is to promote representation, awareness and literacy – this month and beyond.

Black History Month Book Drive promoting representation, awareness, literacy

“I love reading to my kids and how that’s such a big way that I connect with my kids,” D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s Director of Communications Amber Jones said. “We have families who are here, looking to connect with each other.”

The nonprofit serves about 14,000 children and families each year. This year, for the first time, it’s hosting its new Black History Month Book Drive.

“Children’s books and into young adult because we do serve a lot of teens. Books that feature Black characters, educate on Black history, books that can be educational or also just representation for children and families,” Jones said.

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This allows kids to see themselves in each book, while giving others the chance to learn about Black history, culture and experiences.

D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s is working with the Black Book Exchange Box, hoping this book drive will place more books in the community, as well.

“Black books are dope,” Black Book Exchange Box Founder Aarie Wade said. “So, like, our stories are amazing.”

Right now, Wade is reading one of her favorite children’s books – I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes.

“It’s pretty much an amazing book full of affirmations for little Black boys, but I say them to myself.”

She says books like this not only empower Black children and families, but also deepen their desire to read.

“When, especially children, see themselves in a book and can relate to the stories that are in the book, it’s easier for them to read. It’s easier for them to want to read,” Wade added.

The Black Book Exchange Boxes are placed mostly throughout the southeast side of Grand Rapids. They are filled with Black literature, books from Black authors and Black characters.

Everyone is welcome to read, return and repeat.

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“You can visit any of those book houses at any time. Take a book, you can add books, share different books, you can pick one up from one book house, you read it, you can take it to any other book house,” Wade explained. “So, we encourage people to move around…because there’s some jewels in all of them.”

Plus, Wade encourages people to embrace learning about Black history and culture all year long, not just during Black History Month.

“We just hope that people don’t just take the time…to support initiatives like this just during Black History Month,” Wade said. “We want to support Black and Brown people in their initiatives and small businesses, small nonprofit organizations.”

If you’d like to donate to the Black History Month Book Drive, you can drop off books at D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s or have them delivered. You can find more information here.

To find Black book exchange boxes near you, click here.

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