Students to get culturally relevant books

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Some 700 literacy care packages, inclusive of 500 books with black girls and people of colour as the main characters, will be donated to students in Jamaican primary schools during Education Week, May 3 to 7.

President of GrassROOTS Foundation and mother of teen activist Marley Dias, Dr Janice Johnson Dias, will return to Jamaica for the handover.

The gift is made possible by donors Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, and American disc jockey Derrick ‘D-Nice’ Jones.

On March 18, the team held an Instagram Live event featuring the new BatGirl, Javicia Leslie, and Marley Dias.

After raising over US$ 5,000 from donor-participants, Mosseri and Jones matched the funds, bringing the total raised to over US$ 17,000 to support the foundation’s project.

With the help of JetBlue and the Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ), the books will be distributed to 12 primary schools and community groups across the island in time for Read Across Jamaica Day on May 4.

Each primary school will receive 50 book bags, and the Early Childhood Commission will get 100 bags to be distributed to students.

The bags will contain age-appropriate books and a mix of masks, hand sanitiser or soap, wipes, snacks and stationery.

The core planning team will deliver the bags for Kingston schools and couriers or BIAJ representatives will manage bags to be delivered to rural schools.

In commenting on the donation, Johnson Dias said, “We trust that these books will be donated to youth in Jamaica to help support their literacy and their love of reading and writing. We are grateful for the opportunity to support young people at this crucial time and look forward to this and future collaborations.”

A diverse set of partners aided in the effort including Seprod, Carlong Publishers, Collins Publishing, Hodder Education and Scholastic.

BIAJ chairperson Latoya West-Blackwood expressed thanks for the timely intervention.

“We thank Marley and the GrassROOTS Community Foundation for this generous donation that will support our general mission of strengthening literacy skills among children through reading for pleasure and provide an opportunity for students learning from home, during this challenging time, to develop social-emotional skills, explore diverse stories and create valuable bonding time with parents and caregivers. Reading is magic and there’s no better time to remind our children of the power of books to transform their lives,” she said.

While in Jamaica, Johnson Dias will also be hosting a virtual book launch on May 4 and participating in other events around her recent book, Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful Changemaking Girls.

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