Editor’s Note:The following news release is brought to you by WYDaily, courtesy of Barry Trott, spokesperson for the Williamsburg Regional Library.
WILLIAMSBURG — This past winter Williamsburg Regional Library was awarded a Beanstack Black Voices Microgrant — making it one of only 40 libraries or schools across the country the receive that honor.
Beanstack is an online reading log service created by Zoobean, Inc., and WRL has run the digital portion of its popular seasonal reading programs through that platform for the past several years. Zoobean created the Black Voices Microgrant program in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which advocates against racism and discrimination throughout the country. Microgrants were awarded to “bold projects that uplift Black voices” and allow libraries or schools to “establish or enhance local programs that advance social justice and equity,” according to the initiative’s website.
WRL used the $1,000 grant to purchase 100 giveaway copies of Jerry Craft’s book New Kid, a 2019 graphic novel that deals with issues of racism, elitism, microaggression, and white privilege. The book, which is aimed at readers in upper-elementary and middle school, follows 12-year-old Jordan Banks, an African American boy navigating his transition to a private school that lacks both racial and socioeconomic diversity. New Kid won the 2020 Coretta Scott King Award and was also the first graphic novel to ever be awarded the Newbery Medal.
The giveaway copies of the book were distributed to the four Williamsburg-James City County Schools middle schools, where the school media specialists have selected students or classes to receive the free books. Teachers at the schools are finding ways to incorporate the book into their curricula, with some classes engaging in book studies or other activities related to story and its themes. WRL staff are leading a virtual discussion for students in 4th through 8th grades to talk about the book on April 2, which can be accessed at www.wrl.org/new-kid-book-discussion/.
The book giveaway and some of the associated programs were conceived of as an extension of WRL’s One Book One Community initiative, an annual community read hosted in conjunction with William & Mary. This year’s One Book One Community title was Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. This #1 New York Times bestseller is an eye-opening and accessible exploration of race and racism in the United States.
“Stamped is a great selection for our older teen and adult readers, but we wanted to do something to reach a slightly younger crowd as well,” said Ben Strohm, WRL’s youth services director. “New Kid deals with many of the same themes as Stamped, but it’s packaged in a way that is more relatable and digestible for kids in late elementary or middle school, so we thought this was a great opportunity to expand the conversation to include tweens in our community. We’re so grateful that the Beanstack microgrant gave us the chance to do just that.”
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano