Amplifying Black Voices
The Black Kids Matter Initiative was created to amplify, celebrate, and empower the voices of Black children and other children of color. Presented with National Grid, and supported by TD Bank, the initiative asked:
What do you see in yourself that you want others to see?
Black Kids Matter kicked off in seven states across the Eastern seaboard, where educators encouraged their students to express the many ways that Black and Brown kids are special. Those educators submitted a wonderful array of videos, drawings, writing, and poetry expressing the voices of the kids of color they serve.
From drawings to videos to poems – Black kids and other kids of color shared their expressions with us in recognition of Juneteenth.
Windows & Mirrors
Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop shared, “Children need windows and mirrors. They need mirrors in which they see themselves and windows through which they see the world.” In order to spark imagination, children need to see their lives reflected in the stories they read, but many children in low-income communities don’t have access to books.
Through the generous support of our partners, First Book will distribute more than 17,000 culturally relevant books that showcase diverse characters, voices, and life experiences to children in need.
Racial disparities in classrooms strike at the heart of educational equity. First Book is addressing these disparities by ensuring that students of color in low-income communities know that their voices are heard and matter and that they have the resources and materials they need to not only learn, but thrive. Wide access to books and home libraries filled with culturally relevant titles offer young minds the chance to soak up creativity, promote a strong self-image, and foster a love for learning at an early age.
As part of the campaign, both National Grid and TD Bank – through the TD Ready Commitment – are enabling First Book to make books available through schools and programs serving children in low-income and historically excluded communities. The educators, members of the First Book Network specifically serving children in need, will select book titles best suited for their students or program participants in pre-K through grade 12 – all from First Book’s Stories for All Project™.
At the heart of our work for 30 years is our commitment to helping educators have productive, inclusive, and age-appropriate conversations about race with their students and we are dedicated to continuing to support and expand this mission.
Educators can explore our free resources through Empowering Educators, which includes guides and videos to help educators have age-appropriate conversations about race in the classroom.
This celebration of the voices of Black and Brown children comes at a critical time in our country when we all need to listen and encourage children of color to find and share their voices. At the same time, research confirms that children who see themselves in the books they read are more likely to embrace reading, and it is also essential for all children to see their peers represented in the books they read and to hear their stories – to encourage understanding, empathy, and inclusivity. We are so grateful to our presenting sponsor National Grid and our partner TD Bank for their support in launching this campaign.
Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO, and Co-founder of First Book