On July 17, three members of Southington Women for Progress (SWFP) arrived at Derynoski Elementary School with a delivery of 139 new children’s books to the school’s library. The donation came after a three-month initiative organized by the group.
The organization put out a call on Facebook on April 29, requesting new, donated children’s books that address issues of diversity and inclusivity. According to the post, the group’s goal was to supply the school with books that “reflect the diversity of our students and the diversity that they will encounter in the wider world.”
The books came pouring in.
DES principal Janice Verderame accepted the donation. “I am so pleased to accept this generous donation from the ‘Southington Women for Progress’ group,” Verderame said in a press release. “It is so nice to see our community partners continuing to support our children.”
The school will add the books to its library catalogue.
In a press release SWFP members said that the first donation was made at Derynoski because it is Southington’s largest elementary school, but the group plans to continue making donations to other schools in town during as the project continues.
“While I received a wonderful education in Southington, as a woman of color, I would have benefitted from seeing my culture reflected in the curriculum,” said SWFP member Tia Jones in the release. “These books featuring diverse characters are a great start toward implementing culturally relevant pedagogy in Southington schools.”
To organize this initiative, SWFP created an Amazon wish list, called “SWfP Diverse Books.” The list, which is still active online, includes books from pre-K through grade 8 reading levels and address topics ranging from celebrating cultural heritages and encouraging girls in STEM to using agency wisely and being kind to others.
The group is still seeking book donations through the Amazon wishlist and through local donations. For more information, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“As the parent of a Derynoski student, I am pleased that my daughter and her classmates will have access to books that spark their imaginations by using the perspectives and voices of children from all different backgrounds,” SWfP founder Erica Roggeveen Byrne said in the release. “I hope these books can serve as conversation-starters in the classroom and beyond.”
Southington Women for Progress is a non-partisan group of Southington residents committed to making Southington a more just and equitable place for all residents. For more information, visit them at www.SouthingtonWomenForProgress.org.