EPOP: Exciting People of Pelham

Sophia Leung Works to Diversify Elementary School Reading Materials

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Grace Condon, Junior, Clubs Editor

Sophia Leung, a senior at Pelham Memorial High School, is taking strides for the diversification of Pelham elementary school classroom libraries. She is holding a book drive for books that are more diverse than traditional library books, representing non-white cultures, “atypical” stories and relationships. Leung initially started discussions of her project in late spring of 2020, with her announcement asking for donations coming out in mid August. She has been continuously working on this project since then. 

Leung’s project is in accordance with the district’s attempts and commitment to create an environment in which all students feel included. Leung is bringing this change starting at the elementary school level, hoping students are able to carry these ideas throughout their time in Pelham schools and the rest of their lives. 

“I’m really hoping that this will allow elementary students to see themselves better represented in the reading material available to them. Many traditional story books tend to promote stereotypical characters/storylines, so students aren’t often exposed to different cultures or lifestyles. My hope is that having access to more of these books will help foster inclusivity in and outside of the classroom,” Leung said.

Leung has gained great support from the community thus far since sharing the issue she saw in Pelham schools, but still needs help. The ultimate goal is to be able to collect 690 books, allowing for 10 books to be placed in each elementary school classroom, throughout the 4 elementary schools. As of right now, 131 books have been collected with a mix of both new and gently used donations. “That’s under 20% of my goal, so I still need a lot of help!” said Leung. 

Anyone interested in helping this initiative can contact Sophia Leung at [email protected]. All donations are being collected by Leung and can be new or used. Leung added, “At the moment, I’m only taking physical book donations; if you’d rather donate money, I created an Amazon wishlist that will allow you to purchase books and have them shipped directly to me”. The Amazon withlist, in addition to all other resources surrounding this initiative can be accessed here:https://linktr.ee/pelhamequitybookdrive