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Young students across Tulsa are about to get more diverse books in schools and at home thanks to a new collaboration.

The “Read in Color” initiative features a partnership between Reading Partners, a national nonprofit organization, and Little Free Library, to provide students and their families with books that celebrate diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. The partnership will create 26 new Little Free Libraries at schools across Tulsa, with books provided by Harper Collins.

Reading Partners provides literacy education for students in grades kindergarten through third grade. Thanks to funding from the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Reading Partners is able to secure libraries for all its reading centers before the 2021-2022 school year begins. Reading Partners in Tulsa will reach its 29th school this fall.

Photo by Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times

The “Read in Color” program for young students was launched after George Floyd’s murder in order to provide students with books that reflect their own lives and lived experiences. “We want to empower and motivate students to love reading, and to increase their empathy for others,” said Greig Metzger, executive director of Little Free Library, in an interview with The Black Wall St Times. 

Year’s worth of books

The Little Free Libraries will be placed outside elementary schools, receiving a launch package of books and 175 books per library — enough to last young readers a year. 

At the grand opening at Eugene Field Elementary school, LeBron James’ new children’s books, “I Promise,” was highlighted as just one of the new books provided for children and their families. 

And Reading Partners doesn’t just focus on schools. “We want students and families to build up their home libraries,” said Heather Kawlra, executive director of Reading Partners. Reading Partners’ literacy program typically serves nearly 2000 students across Tulsa Public Schools, providing one-on-one literacy education for students in kindergarten through third grades. Even during Covid, students had sessions over Zoom, at least twice a week for 45 minutes. 

(Christopher Creese / The Black Wall Street Times)

Books that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion

Reading Partners and Little Free Libraries are proud to start this program during the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in which all of Tulsa — and the nation — is focused on the challenges facing Black students and their families, in school and beyond. 

As part of the initiative and partnership between Little Free Library and Reading Partners, “Read in Color” makes a pledge to provide diverse books for young people, as well as reading lists of books that celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion. Little Free Library and Partners in Reading, along with Harper Collins, hopes to expand to more schools across Tulsa and the rest of the country through their “Read in Color” program. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...