EAST LANSING, Mich. — A new reading group for children is launching on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL).
ELPL is partnering with Michigan State University (MSU) to offer a monthly Social Justice Reading Group aimed at children, ages 4-11 (preschool to fifth grade). The reading group is designed to engage kids in the exploration of social justice through children's literature. MSU faculty with expertise in a specific social justice area will read children's books on that month's social justice topic (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, social class, Indigenous rights, LGBTQ).
After the readings, MSU students working towards a degree in teaching will facilitate small group discussions on the topics. Teen volunteers from the Greater Lansing Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. will assist with the discussions and craft activities.
Support for this program is provided by several units at MSU: the Department of Teacher Education, the College of Education, The Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Lyman Briggs College.
“The East Lansing Public Library is very excited to partner with MSU to host this exciting new Social Justice Reading Group for children,” said ELPL Director Kristin Shelley. “We have the resources and the space to help initiate conversations about these subjects, which are sometimes hard to understand and hard to talk about, with children.”
The Social Justice Reading Group is organized by MSU faculty Georgina Montgomery and Dorinda Carter Andrews. Montgomery’s inspiration for the event was her six-year-old daughter.
“I talked with her about prejudice based on someone’s race or gender and the next day she asked to bring a book she owns about Jackie Robinson to her class for share day,” said Montgomery. “Seeing her turn to books to try to understand complex issues prompted me to reach out to Dorinda to explore a way to create a safe place for children to learn about social justice and for parents to access resources to help them engage with what are often hard, but important conversations to have with their children.”
The January Social Justice Reading Group topic will be Who Belongs Here?, featuring readings by MSU faculty Helen Zoe Veit and Glenn Chambers. The group’s first meeting will take place on Saturday, Jan. 21 from 10:30 a.m.-noon at ELPL. Registration is required via the library website at http://www.elpl.org/form/social-justice-reading-group-registration.