Oak Hall student delivers diversity libraries to local elementary schools

Drew Butler
Oak Hall student Willa Harvey delivers a collection of books focusing on diverse characters and themes to Plainview Elementary School librarian Stacy Wilson. Harvey spent the summer compiling the books and delivered several similar collections to local elementary schools on Thursday.
Willa Harvey with a carload full of books to be delivered to local elementary school libraries. Each box contains books for a different school, and she is holding a letter she composed that she presents along with the books.

On Thursday, Oak Hall fifth grader Willa Harvey spent the day driving to elementary schools in the area to deliver a special collection of books to each school. All of the books are for younger readers and feature positive diverse characters.

Harvey began collecting the books in late May. After searching the internet for a list of diverse books for children, she created an Amazon.com wish list of 26 books with the goal of getting enough copies of each book to build a diversity library for 10 area elementary schools. After posting a video asking for help to her mother’s social media account, she received an overwhelming response and expanded the project to include even more schools.

In the end she had enough books to create diversity libraries for 15 area schools and one to go to the Brass Ring Center for the Performing Arts. Each of the books contains a sticker on the cover that indicates its part of the diversity library as well as a label on the inside stating who purchased the book and where that person lives.

Harvey explained why she created the collection.

“I’m hoping the kids at the schools can read the books and learn about people different than themselves,” she said. “I also hope that some kids can read the books and see themselves represented in them and feel a sense of pride.”

She said a book that is a good representation of the kind of books featured in the collection is “The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by Rafael Lopez.

“That’s one I would suggest for the little kids,” she said. “It’s basically about a bunch of different kids who are from different backgrounds, and they all start at a new school on the same day. On the outside they all like different things, but on the inside, they all feel the same about it.”

On Thursday, Harvey planned to deliver the books to Lincoln, Charles Evans, Will Rogers, Plainview, Lone Grove, Wilson, Dickson, Madill, Marietta, Healdton, Ringling and Zaneis elementary schools. She had previously delivered books to Oak Hall, the Brass Ring, and Davis. She will be delivering books to Fox and Springer in the near future.