CHICAGO – Noble Elementary-Middle School in Detroit, Minnesota Internship Center in Minneapolis and Townson School in Rochester, New York have been selected to receive the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grants.
Awarded each spring by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, the grant program donates books originally submitted for consideration for the Coretta Scott King Book Awards to three organizations to enhance collections. Three libraries are selected from a field of applicants that demonstrate need and potential benefit from receiving the collection. All three winners will receive more than 70 titles submitted to the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Awards, including a full set of the year’s winner and honor titles.
Noble Elementary-Middle School, part of the Detroit City School District, serves a community where 80 percent of families are economically challenged due to high unemployment. Despite physical deterioration of the surrounding neighborhood and longstanding economic stagnation, enrollment at Noble is increasing. Additionally, Noble families have a strong sense of connection to the school, with many students being second and third generation enrollees.
“In order to restore morale and bring encouragement and hope back to the student body and staff, we would like to add a collection of books to our library by authors who share similar experiences as our students,” said Noble’s City Year Team Leader Destynee Walker.
The Unity Campus of the Minneapolis Internship Center (MNIC) is a charter school that serves North Minneapolis suffering from high violence, economic hardship, and homelessness. According to MNIC’s McKinney-Vento liaison, an estimated 80 percent of the school’s 140 students are couch-hopping, and 30-50 percent of youth are identified as “highly mobile” throughout the year. MNIC provides free lunch, breakfast, health care access and mental health services to all of its students. Sarah Fischer, an English teacher at MNIC, discovered the Coretta Scott King Book Awards through assigning G. Neri’s “Yummy,” selected as a 2011 Author Honor title, to her students.
“What I found through assigning this graphic novel was authentic engagement,” Fischer said. “Seeing their bodies and selves represented in text, my students were able to find belonging in literature, and for the first time, for many, they began to see themselves as readers. While we know books cannot solve the students’ problems, they may certainly offer reprieve. These materials will become our classroom library and will be worked into the curriculum as soon as possible.”
Andrew J. Townson School #39 in Rochester, N.Y. serves 620 children from a surrounding community suffering from economic stagnation, 67 percent of which are African American. 89 percent of all Townson students receive free lunch, and the school has been struggling academically, being identified as a focus school by New York State. Townson’s library has had five school librarians over the past 10 years, with much of the collection having been lost or damaged beyond repair. Townson’s librarian, Catherine Buyer-Davis has worked to revitalize the collection, however.
“The books recognized by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards gives all of my students a chance to make connections with their heritage and culture,” said Buyer-Davis, librarian at Townson School. “Adding these books to the current collection will allow these children to see a rich tapestry of their own heritage, or the heritage of their friends, broadening their worldview. It stands to reason that this kind of literature is vital for the personal and cultural identity of at-risk students.”
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African-American experience through literature and the graphic arts. To learn more about the Coretta Scott King Book Donation Grant, please visit www.ala.org/csk.