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This spring, we partnered with the Dr. William W. Henderson K-12 Inclusion School in Dorchester again. We are encouraging donations of used books from the homes of individuals that ideally feature diverse stories to reflect the students' lives.

Articles about Our Fall 2023 campaign!

Emerson student book drive to boost BPS literacy, inclusion efforts
By Christopher Huffaker Globe Staff,Updated October 18, 2023

Books to go to the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School are displayed on the tables. Emerson College launches its annual On the Same Page Boston campaign to bring diverse books to Boston Public Schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF 

It felt like Christmas every day for a month.Students in a fifth-grade classroom at Conley Elementary in Boston Public Schools tore into newly donated books, excited and eager to read them. The images of those children, conveyed to Emerson College professor Cathryn Edelstein by their teacher four years ago, propelled Edelstein to continue a campaign to get much-needed books into the hands of Boston students, even when schools shuttered during the pandemic.Over the last four years, Emerson College students have collected 6,000 books for BPS students, each year partnering with an individual school on a curated wish list. The On the Same Page Boston campaign, organized by students in a nonprofit class taught by Edelstein, has relied on families at recipient schools, the Emerson community, and members of the public donating online or at drop boxes at Tatte bakeries around Boston. 
This year, amid a district overhaul of reading instruction, known as equitable literacy, and a simultaneous expansion of inclusive classrooms where students with and without disabilities learn together, BPS is stepping up its involvement in the annual book campaign. For the first time, rather than leaving it to Edelstein’s connections with teachers, the district picked the recipient school: the Henderson K-12 Inclusion School in Dorchester, a semi-autonomous “innovation school” that serves around 850 students. It was the district’s first fully inclusive K-12 school, with more than one-quarter of its enrollment students with disabilities.At the launch of the annual campaign Tuesday, district officials joined representatives from Emerson and Edelstein’s class to tout the expected benefits of the program. Superintendent Mary Skipper outlined how the campaign would dovetail with both equitable literacy and expanding inclusion.“The Henderson really has been the weathervane for us of what inclusive education can look like in our city for a long time,” Skipper said. “This donation in particular will help them to do so even more.”The books will support the school’s inclusion model following recent challenges with staffing and safety, Skipper said.
The donations will accelerate efforts at the Henderson to improve access to age-appropriate books featuring diverse content, said Joseph Cahill, the school’s director of instruction for Grades 2 through 5. District schools need those materials as part of equitable literacy, a district-created program of reading instruction that focuses on phonics as well as increased access to grade-level materials that the district’s students see themselves reflected in. BPS has spent more than $8.25 million on Equitable Literacy since 2022, officials said.The annual campaign, too, aims to increase access to age-appropriate books and diverse content. The Henderson’s wish list, which residents can view and donate to directly, ranges from Meet the Phonics and Captain Underpants to books by authors Toni Morrison and Emily Bronte. Henderson staff generated the list over recent weeks, with help from a survey of Grade 5 students, Cahill said.The campaign’s goal is to donate 1,000 books this year, Emerson College president Jay Bernhardt said.Bernhardt noted the national backdrop of the campaign. As Boston seeks to expand access to diverse content, many parts of the country are going in the other direction.“In Boston and at Emerson, we believe in reading books, not banning books,” he said.

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