Community donates 1,750 diverse books to VUSD schools

Balboa MS Librarian Mike Cromie and Assistant Principal Tomas Gaeta are happy to receive the donated books.

Ventura Education Partnership thanks the community for their generous support of Diverse Books for Kids which brought a MiniGrant program for new, diverse books to VUSD educators. Forty VUSD educators applied for and received books for their classrooms or programs. Joel Levin, Buena High School’s Library Media Teacher said, “It is vital that we provide literature for students that validates and honors their life experiences. This is amplified exponentially for our students (including our LGBTQ+ community) who face discrimination on a daily basis. They need to see heroes and protagonists like them – characters who face the same struggles and journeys towards self-love and self-actualization.”

For VEP President, Madhu Bajaj, reading and books are her passion. She believes that bringing diverse, contemporary books to students is crucial. Bajaj said, “Students need access to books that feel relevant to them, where they can see themselves, their peers, deepen their understanding of themselves while also learning about others. We are grateful that our community agreed and supported this effort that brought 1,750 new, diverse books to VUSD schools.”

Each year, Ventura Education Partnership offers VEPGrants to VUSD teachers who apply for funding for an innovative project. Innovation fosters real world problem solving, lifelong learning, collaboration and more ~ skills that connect students to school now and are essential for future success. And while innovation is continually happening in education during COVID challenges, the usual VEPGrants program was not feasible.

This challenge allowed for the Diverse Books for Kids MiniGrants to come to life. Books were delivered to campuses early February and brought smiles to teachers’ faces as they shared their plans for bringing books to students. Kathy Asher, VEP’s Co-VP of Grants said, “Through this program, VUSD staff showed their passion and commitment to diversity by selecting a vast array of age-appropriate literature and helping students think critically about cultural differences in our world. Debbie Golden, also Co-VP of Grants believes the Diverse Books for Kids project “contributes toward transformative change, that it inspires students to think critically about how we engage with and promote social justice.”

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