There’s a new focus on creating more access to diverse books in DC neighborhoods

The colorful little boxes filled with free books along neighborhood streets throughout the District are easy to spot, and now the nonprofit behind that effort is working to bring more diverse stories to the communities they serve.

Little Free Library has launched the “Read in Color” initiative. The nonprofit’s executive director, M. Greig Metzger, says it’s about making sure everyone can see themselves in the books they read while learning and growing.

“Reading books that present others perceptions of the world also can provide a window into other experiences,” Metzger said.

The book-sharing group is working with local partners like the nonprofit Everybody Wins DC to create 20 new libraries, with some going up in Wards 7 and 8. The initiative will also provide a year’s supply of books in an effort to create more opportunity. The national initiative is also pulling in publishers to help gain access to lesser known authors.

A child grabs a book from a Little Free Library box in Washington, D.C. (Little Free Library)

Another key focus, Metzger says, is to promote diverse voices and authors by supporting local bookstores, along with accepting donations. “They’re the bright lights in communities about reading and sharing books and so important for us to support them as well,” he said.

He says anyone can take the Read in Color pledge, which indicates a person’s commitment to read and share diverse books, request a book list, buy a book, read it and then drop that book off at one of the little free library boxes.

“If we could get more people absorbing diverse authors, diverse perspectives, the world might be just a little bit nicer and a little bit more empathetic,” Metzger said.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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