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Welcoming Library: Bringing Immigration Conversations to the Classroom

The Welcoming Library, adopted by library districts across the Northeast, uses picture books set in our immigrant and 1st-3rd generation communities to discuss who belongs in our diverse America. Designed to travel between classrooms and between schools, the pop-up display unit packed with picture books opens windows for long-term students and holds up crucial mirrors for new arrival students. Each book in the curated collection has a unique set of discussion materials affixed to the endpapers and an online catalog of lesson plans to invite educators into the conversation. These books will help implement Act 1’s directive to support the needs of underrepresented youth. To remove the financial barriers of acquiring this deep dive into the diversity of our immigrant communities, the collection moves between schools at no cost. A Welcoming Library will be coming to Vermont schools in 2021 supported by memorial donations in honor of Brattleboro resident James Cappy.

Kirsten Cappy is the Executive Director of I’m Your Neighbor Books (https://www.imyourneighborbooks.org), a nonprofit organization that creates welcoming spaces for New Arrivals and New Americans—using children’s literature. Kirsten co-created the I’m Your Neighbor Books’ Welcoming Library, a touring collection of picture books and discussion materials designed for classroom and community conversations on immigration. Long an advocate for children’s literature, its creators, and schools and libraries, she also builds free children’s literature classroom activities and library programming guides at her company Curious City (https://www.curiouscitydpw.com). Raised in the great state of Vermont, Kirsten does her work in Portland, Maine.

Kate Cutko is the Library Director at the Bowdoinham Public Library and the co-founder of I’m Your Neighbor Books’ Welcoming Library project. She is also a clinical social worker working in the field of adoption. Kate is committed to fostering representation and equity in libraries and communities.