As the Whitney Houston song proclaims, we believe the children are our future. This is why the majority of BookTini’s community service events focus on encouraging young people to read in their spare time.
The Oakland/East Bay chapter of BookTini decided to keep this the running theme of their 2018 community service project by donating copies of the New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy novel, Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, to the students of McClymonds High School in West Oakland.
Enter Ms. Relonda McGee’s Young Empowered Sistas group, made up of teen girls who attend McClymonds High. Participants in the group recieved their own copy of the book late in the 2018 fall semester, with the intention to discuss the book with BookTini chapter members after reading it over their holiday break. The school library also recieved three new copies of Children of Blood & Bone to add to their library collection.
Due to scheduling and delays caused by the Oakland teachers strike during the Spring 2019 semester, Oakland/East Bay members were unable to meet with Young Empowered Sistas until the last day of the school year.
But that didn’t stop the girls from enjoying a lively discussion led by Community Service Chair, Linda Banks. Banks is also a Positive Discipline Educator and Youth Advocate with more than 20 years experience in youth development. In leading the discussion, Banks connected the African fantasy novel to themes of displacement, othering, super powers, feminism, representation and leadership, which helped the students center themselves in the discussion. The ladies closed out the discussion and the last day of school with new book recommendations for summer reading, and suggestions for Oakland/East Bay chapter members to read as well.
“It was a great experience working with these young women, who are discovering different mediums to access reading material, such as the Wattpad app,” Linda shared following the discussion. “They also raised questions to us about the bonds we share within BookTini, and about our own journeys in entrepreneurship. I’m thankful for the opportunity to expose them to our love for reading and plant seeds of literacy and sisterhood. Looking forward to more opportunities to continue the community service leg of BookTini’s mission.”
A special thanks to Ms. McGee and McClymond’s Librarian, Leah Jensen, for making this project possible, and to BookTini -Oakland/East Bay members for their book and snack donations.