ACES Grant Funds Books for Belonging

March 18, 2022

McKinleyville Family Resource Center staff and Stepping Stone Diversity Consultanting partner, Aristea Saulsbury wrote and are now implementing a First 5 ACES funded grand to get more diverse books into the hands of children in Humboldt County child care programs. Initially hoping for 30 child care programs to participate, the initiative had 57 applicants as of February, 2022, as reported by Aristea. 

Preschool teacher reading a book to engaged group of children
Teacher reading a book with a class of preschool children

In 2018 50% of children’s books published depicted white protagonists, according to statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison Twenty seven percent depicted animals or other non-human protagonists, while 10% had African American protagonists, 7% Asian or Pacific Islander protagonists, 5% Hispanic protagonists and just 1% Native American protagonists. These numbers do not reflect the demographics of the children in child care in our country.

Reviewing Books with an Equity Lens – What to look for:

● Illustrations – look for stereotypes, tokenism,
● Are BIPOC characters the stars?
● Are the characters people?
● Who wrote the book? Whose experiences are
they drawing on?
● Look for positive interactions across
● Are different lifestyles normalized?
● Balanced library – are all books about BIPOC
folks about oppression?
● Do characters engage in actions for change?

Aristea’s grant through the Family Resource Center will vet books with an equity lens, and distribute them to childcare providers throughout Humboldt county. This project will go a long way towards helping programs in Humboldt County develop libraries that reflect the children who attend their child care programs, and serve, in Aristea’s words, “as an entry point to conversations in the classroom”.   

Since the interest has been so great, Aristea has needed to seek out supplemental funding to ensure that all interested child care providers can participate. So far they have been pledged to received $10,000 from the Nutopia fund to add to the initial ACES grant.

A preschooler writing on notebook while sitting on green grass in a park
A little boy writing on notebook while sitting on green grass in a park

In addition, other local groups have signed on as supporters and partners in the project, including Native Women’s Collective, HAPI (Humboldt Asians & Pacific Islanders In Solidarity), Centro Del Pueblo, Dr. Kishan Lara Cooper, New Rising Hmong Association, NAACP Librarians for Equity group, and Queer Humboldt. Groups have been finding and reviewing books to be included in the project.