Representation Matters in Children's Literature

A Kansas Literacy Festival Partner Spotlight:

Work around race, diversity, equity, and inclusion starts at an early age. #representationmatters

“Once children see themselves represented in books, their existence is validated, and they feel that they are a part of the world.”

~Eric Velaquez, Author

In the months leading up to our Kansas Literacy Festival this September, Storytime Village is excited to spotlight the incredibly talented individuals and organizations who have partnered with us to host literacy programming across the state of Kansas.

This spotlight features United Way of the Plains and their Inclusive Readers Become Inclusive Leaders program.

The Inspiration Behind the Project

Prior to working at United Way of the Plains, Rachele FioRito worked as a high school teacher. The novels she was directed to teach featured narratives of white characters, written by white authors. Any characters of color were predominately featured in stories that centered on subjection. She knew that we as a society were failing our kids if they only were introduced to stories that featured white characters in positions of power, and characters of color centered on narratives of subjection.

Now, as United Way of the Plains' Collective Impact Manager for education, FioRito has spearheaded the Inclusive Readers Become Inclusive Leaders program in order to begin the important task of lifting up diverse narratives. Supported and authentic conversations starting with our children might not end systemic racism by itself, but it can open doors for even more impactful work.

"If we were able to talk to our kids openly about race, diversity, and inclusion with the same importance that we talk to our kids about their letters, numbers, and colors," says FioRito , "I truly believe we would be closer to a more just and anti-racist society."

The Festival Project: Inclus