Young, Black & Lit co-founders Krenice Roseman and Derrick Ramsey at pop-up book store at Oakton Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Young, Black & Lit.
“Aim to change the narrative with love.”
Each month we highlight a community program that aligns with the values of SoulVision Magazine. We believe engaging with one’s community is critical to fostering positive change in the world.
Young, Black & Lit was created to provide free children’s books that feature black characters to children in the Chicago area. “We distribute books to children through partnerships with schools and organizations that serve low-income youth,” co-founder Derrick Ramsey says. The organization also sells children’s books via its online bookstore. Proceeds go towards Young, Black & Lit’s mission to give youth free books. “In a world that too often undervalues the beauty and brilliance of black children, we aim to change the narrative,” Derrick says. “We are an organization that is rooted in love: love of children, love of reading, and love of black culture.”
Young, Black & Lit donating books to Chicago area pediatrician offices in partnership with Reach Out and Read. Photo courtesy of Young, Black & Lit.
Through their free book program, Young, Black & Lit is telling young black kids that their experiences and lives matter. “Many education scholars agree that when books serve as mirrors that allow children to see themselves, their families, and their communities reflected, children feel valued,” Derrick explains. “When those same books serve as windows, allowing children to see the similarities and differences they have with other cultures, children feel connected.”
Young, Black & Lit’s new Lit Year Program provides one new book per month for the 2020-2021 school year. Because the program expands into the summer, students will receive a total of 15 books. The books are given to students who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program at their participating schools. The program starts with children in kindergarten and works with them through 3rd grade. “Research shows that students who were not proficient in reading were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers,” he says. “A significant way to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to print. Lit Year Program participation ensures that each child will have at least 60 books in their at-home library by the end of 3rd grade.” Through literature, children can dream far and wide. When we invest in our children, we all win.
Young, Black & Lit ambassador Kalaya reading Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe.
Photo courtesy of Young, Black & Lit.