Welcoming in 2024

The 13,000+ books we have placed in Welcoming Libraries across the country all have the same invitation:

Read to Welcome. Read to Belong.

Each children’s book tells the story of a modern immigrant family or their new generations.

As readers, you will not be surprised that these books change us.

Reading at any age gives you the emotional connection and cultural information to be more welcoming. If your cultural experience is represented in the book, reading tells you that you belong in the school, library, or town where you encountered that title. We all deserve to belong.

Children’s books that build welcoming and belonging are being banned nationwide.

2,000 unique books were challenged, segregated, or banned in schools and libraries this year. Most of those titles were by or about people of color or people with LGBTQIA+ identities. Many organizations and individuals have been forced to take a step back from sharing and teaching books that could lead to conversations about race and culture.

In 2024, I’m Your Neighbor Books is stepping in. We are stepping into schools and we are stepping into these crucial conversations.

Our award-winning Welcoming Library: Traveling Collection tours schools and libraries from 140 hubs in the US and Canada. While the collection contains books that have been challenged and banned, our project has not yet been challenged. With books traveling between locations for a one-month loan, we have been a moving target.

But starting this month, we are placing permanent collections into schools. The Welcoming Library: Cart Collection offers 60 grade-level books featuring Immigrant and New Generation families. The collection will roll into classrooms on a custom book cart with “Read to Welcome” engraved on one side and “Read to Belong” on the other.

With 26% of school children nationwide being immigrants or the children of immigrants, it is essential that they and their classmates see their identities represented.

The presence of these books is not enough. For books to have full impact, we must talk about what we see, feel, and envision. While we do this work with our acclaimed discussion questions placed in core books, there is more work to be done.

Starting in 2024, I’m Your Neighbor Books steps in to support teachers as they explore immigration, race, and culture in the classroom.

In partnership with the Maine Department of Education, I’m Your Neighbor Books will work with a collective of educators and immigrant parents to develop a national teacher training series. Using the stories of resilient immigrant families, we will explore how all students can thrive.

I’m Your Neighbor Books will continue to promote immigrant welcoming and belonging with our:

  • Book Database that centers Immigrant and New Generation identities and the cross-cultural themes that unite us all.
  • Curriculum that uses our titles to explore conversations about race, culture, and identity.
  • New Arrival Book Project that gifts books to refugee children to build belonging and reduce trauma.
  • Rapid Response Book Boxes that provide supportive narratives when immigrant communities are under duress.
  • StoryWalk © that brings welcoming and belonging conversations into public settings.
  • Book Awards that celebrate the books that best celebrate the immigrant experience.
  • Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Festival that holds book giveaways and events to honor the children’s books and creators of the African Diaspora
  • Giveaways that lift and gift crucial community-building book titles.

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