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Last fall, we attended the School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Brooklyn, N.Y. The theme of the conference was “Make Good Trouble.” During that whirlwind weekend of learning, we attended a breakout session with Cicely Lewis, the school librarian who started the movement known as Read Woke.
According to an article Ms. Lewis wrote for School Library Journal, woke books:
In honor of Black History Month in February, the Portland Library held an all-ages event with screenings, games and activities celebrating black superheroes. We screened episodes of “Static Shock,” a TV show from the early '00s that featured a black superhero, and had an array of games, coloring pages and a book display.
We have held the event for the past four years, and it has grown in popularity each time.
Our library has a collection of American Girl Dolls and a multicultural collection with artifacts from all over the world. Both circulating collections are very popular.
We decided to create a program linking the artifacts to the historical American Girl dolls based on the characters’ causes, the beliefs they stood for, and what their corresponding books are about.
ALA will join the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and organizations across the country in observing the 2019 National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, Jan. 22. On that day, thousands will celebrate our common humanity and take collective action toward a more just and equitable world. (Read the proclamation by ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo.)
Since January 2015, the Allegheny County (Pa.) Library Association has allowed children to check out American Girl dolls, along with educational pamphlets about the time period they represent. The dolls come with clothes, hairbrushes, books, a carrying case and a journal where users can write about their experiences with the dolls.
At public libraries we spend an awful lot of time celebrating the holidays and happy parts of life (as we should): Halloween parties, Valentine's crafts, Thanksgiving storytime, book launches, STEM programs. These are all exciting and essential services. But what about the needs of our patrons that are sometimes a bit messier, a bit more hidden from public view, a bit less Hallmark-card sweet and a bit more nitty-gritty reality?