DETROIT — If children can see themselves in the books they read, it opens up a world of possibilities, a world of understanding.
"It's critical that as we are growing up, and we have hopes and dreams, that we see ourselves in the literature around us, that we know that we, too, can be anything we want to be," said Cindy Eggleton, co-founder of Brilliant Detroit.
Brilliant Detroit, the organization that aims to create kid-success neighborhoods, has teamed up with Little Free Library to get more diverse books into the hands of local kids.
"So there will be 14 throughout the city and one year of free books that are brand new written by authors of color. And this is what we need ... it's an amazing effort," said Eggleton.
It’s all part of Little Free Library's "Read in Color" initiative, which was launched last year in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Read in Color libraries have rolled out in six cities, including Detroit.
Courtesy Brilliant Detroit
"I have to tell you that especially during now, during COVID, during all of the issues that exist in the world, this last week when we launched this, my heart was so full. We had about 100 people show up. The kids were thrilled and excited and picking up books, sitting and reading them, and also just enjoying each other. That is a beautiful thing," said Eggleton.
From perspectives on racism and social justice to celebrating diverse voices, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, these books will be available at the Read in Color-designated Little Free Library stations to grow book collections across Detroit.
And some stories come right from the community.
"We are planning to lift something special to that neighborhood. I think there are so many heroes around Detroit; we don't always hear those stories," said Eggleton.
One local author who will be featured at the Brightmoor Little Free Library is 11-year-old Gabriel Etheridge.
"I wrote a book called, "When I Grow Up, What Might I Be?", it is a book written by ... 8-year-old my dad and me, and I went through different career possibilities of what I could be when I grew up," said Etheridge.
Etheridge said he’s excited to have his book featured, and he hopes other kids get inspired.
"I hope that other kids take away that no matter what you look like, who you are, you can do and be anything, anything whatsoever," he said.
Eggleton said the rollout of the 14 Read in Color libraries should be completed in October.
"We plan to continue these on forever. So we will find funders. We will find support," she said.
The goal, Cindy said, is to have 24 sites by 2024.
To learn more about Brilliant Detroit or donate, click here.
Alexandra Bahou at WXYZ first reported this story.