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Using Reading to Raise Awareness


March 2, 2021 -- Reading aloud is the foundation of literacy development. This year, four librarians from Columbus City Schools are reading aloud as part of a national initiative. Called the African-American Read-In, these librarians hope that the words in their books help others make sense of the world right now. “Given the events, protests, and discussions of 2020 that brought national attention to the need for racial equality and diversity, we felt it was even more important to use reading as a tool to bring awareness,” said Chiquita Toure, librarian at Eastmoor Academy.

The African-American Read-In is nothing new. It’s a national initiative started by the National Council of Teachers of English, and it boasts six million participants. Usually, the annual Read-In is held in school buildings, but this year’s event is virtual because of the pandemic. That’s not the only thing new about the 2021 African-American Read-In at Columbus City Schools.  

“This is the first virtual African American Read-In sponsored by the Library Services Department, and we hope to continue each year,” said Lynda Ray, Multiple Literacy Specialist, Columbus City Schools. In addition to the Chiquita Toure, the other librarians participating this year are Hannah Green, Whetstone High School; Courtney Johnson, Ft. Hayes Arts and Academic and Stephanie Meeks, Columbus Africentric Early College. They read picture books to excerpts from Young Adult titles with permission from authors and publishers. 

All four librarians are recipients of the Teachers Dream Grant for the 2020-2021 school year. “They have been working together since last summer to promote a reading initiative entitled #Reading4Justice within our schools across the District,” said Ray. “For this year’s book talk, they selected Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi.”

Research shows that teachers who read aloud motivate students to read and learn. “With the election of our first African-Asian American woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, what better way to educate and share the importance of reading about the lives and understanding the rich legacy of persons of African ancestry,” said Toure. “The pandemic has been a prime time to work together and prioritize socially relevant books.”

Click here to learn more and share the first African American Read-In sponsored by the Library Services Department for CCS.