5,000 Diverse Books (and Cozy Pajamas) Donated…

Now this is something to shout about for Glow Girls who are passionate about literacy and diversity in children’s media, especially if you have young readers at home who are looking to see themselves reflected in their reading materials!

A record 5,000 books featuring characters of color and diverse storylines, including My Rainy Day Rocket Ship and What Is Light? are set to be donated to underserved children across the USA.

The donations are made possible by TIAA, a financial services company that teamed up with publisher Simon & Schuster and New York Times bestselling author Denene Millner and the nonprofit Pajama Program.

The book donations are an extension of TIAA’s “Roger Reads” program, led by TIAA President and CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., that brings TIAA employees together to read a book on the perspectives of inclusion, race and allyship. The two-month series of powerful book club discussions garnered an audience of nearly 2,000 employees. “Roger Reads” is part of TIAA’s “Be the Change” initiative, which promotes the company’s commitment to justice, equity and combating racism.

“During a year of unprecedented voice and connection on race, we want to continue to deliver a meaningful community impact, with a 5,000-book donation through our ‘Roger Reads’ program,” said Corie Pauling, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at TIAA.

“There is tremendous value in building the self-esteem, confidence, and the awareness of power and possibilities for children – and for adults — within books. Through personal reflection, vulnerability and conscious inclusion practices like macro-affirmations, we forge stronger connection, celebrate our individual humanity and talents and also lift each other in how we work and engage every day.”

Markette and her son at the What Is Light book party
“What Is Light?” author Markette Sheppard at a book signing with her son.

The donated books, along with cozy pajamas, will be distributed to Pajama Program’s Community Partners in the coming months as part of their One Million Good Nights campaign, which has a goal of delivering comforting bedtimes and healthy sleep to one million children across the U.S. by January 2022. The need is particularly high during the holiday season, and the demand has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pajama Program is extremely grateful to TIAA and Denene Millner Books for their generous support and donation of 5,000 books to champion our mission,” said Jamie Dyce, Executive Director of Pajama Program. “Not only will this help us impact the lives of thousands of children, but the thoughtfully curated collection of books also will enable us to engage in critical conversations on equity and representation in children’s literature and in our communities to help us further our mission and better embody Pajama Program’s core values.”

Moderated by Dyce during a recent virtual forum, Millner and Pauling discussed equity and representation in children’s books and how books are a key element in supporting Pajama Program’s mission.

“I’ve had the pleasure of reading to children in the Atlanta offices of Pajama Program, and I saw up close the joy that came when they were invited to pick a book of their very own,” said Millner. “That joy very much mirrors my own, knowing that Denene Millner Books’ donation of 5,000 picture books will not only find homes with kids who need and want them, but will send to them a powerful message that the everyday lives of Black children are beautiful and worthy stories that belong on the page. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

View the recording of the virtual forum from Pajama Program here

BOOK TITLES INCLUDED IN DONATION:

  • My Rainy Day Rocket Ship, written by celebrated Washington, D.C. television host Markette Sheppard and illustrated by fine artist Charly Palmer: This delightful title shows that rainy summer days are no match for a little astronaut who builds the perfect rocket ship for an indoor space adventure to another galaxy, where the sky is his only limit!
  • What Is Light?, written by Markette Sheppard, illustrated by Cathy Ann JohnsonThe critically acclaimed board book reimagined as a lyrical and luminously illustrated picture book that explores the beauty of the everyday moments in a child’s world.
  • Just Like a Mama, written by award-winning author Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow: A celebration of the heart connection between adopted children and the forever families who welcome them with kindness, care, and unconditional love
  • Me and Mama, penned and illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera: This celebration of a mother-daughter relationship is perfect for sharing with little ones!
  • If Dominican Were a Color, written by Afro-Latina blogger and advocate Sili Recio, illustrated by artist Brianna McCarthy: The colors of Hispaniola burst into life in this striking, evocative debut picture book that celebrates the joy of being Dominican.
  • Si quisqueya fue un color, the Spanish edition of If Dominican Were A Color
  • There’s A Dragon in My Closet, written by Dorothea Taylor, illustrated by Charly Palmer: In this funny and imaginative salute to mischievous little kids, a young boy blames mishaps on the dragon in the closet only he can see.
  • Early Sunday Morning, written by Denene Millner, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: A heartwarming story of love and family in which a community comes together to help a young girl find the courage to lift her mighty voice.
Markette Sheppard

Markette Sheppard

Markette Sheppard is an Emmy award-winning TV host, children's book author, marketing executive and founder of Glow Stream TV. Follow her online @markettesheppard and @glowstreamtv.

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