Our View

Kayela Horn, who has four children in the Joplin School District, wants children in school to have the opportunity to read diverse books in their classrooms.

“I grew up not always having books with characters or stories like me or who looked like me,” Horn said. “I thought this would be a way to celebrate diversity in the school.”

So she did something to provide such books to classrooms, starting with the help of family friend Ann Compton, a teacher at Irving Elementary School, and other teachers to create an Amazon wish list for Irving classrooms.

The effort is spreading; a similar drive is underway for Harry S. Truman Elementary School in Webb City. This certainly seems like a great moment to make stories available involving a wide range of protagonists from various cultures, races and ethnic groups.

Elementary school students have the opportunity to learn a lot through reading. Stories are a great way to build understanding. The books in the list include works with varied characters, including those who are Native American, Black, Hispanic or from any number of other cultures. The books also include kids coping with physical differences or learning challenges.

Being able to read about people similar to yourself is important validation to young children, and reading about those who are different is a way to broaden understanding and awareness.

Even better, you can help with the online book drive. And people are — at least 45 donors have provided more than 130 books so far. The link to the Irving book wish list is: https://amzn.to/31r5FGG. The link to the Truman wish list is: https://amzn.to/3dEB9f8.

We think the diverse book wish list approach is worth spreading. Horn says friends connected with the University of Hawaii are looking for books celebrating Micronesian culture for students in Neosho. A friend of Horn’s living in the Kansas City area has set up a wish list for her children’s school district.

The wish list approach makes donations simple and contact-free, and that makes it convenient and attractive under the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe you could contact the parent-teacher organization at your children’s elementary school or make contact with your children’s teachers to set up a wish list. It is a worthwhile effort, and we suspect most schools would be happy to participate.

It is good to see an idea meet its moment.

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