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A Kingston Mother, and the Kingston Frontenac Public Library push for more diversity in reading lists

Click to play video: 'A Kingston Mother and the public library are offering diverse summer reading suggestions' A Kingston Mother and the public library are offering diverse summer reading suggestions
WATCH: A Kingston mother and the KFPL are offering diverse reading suggestions to promote both Black and Indigenous authors, stories, and histories. – Jul 14, 2021

If you’re flipping through your reading list and are looking for more diverse stories, a Kingston mother may have some ideas for you.

Michelle McDonald is a child protection worker, and a mother who came up with the concept of her Youtube channel “Ruthy’s Reading Room” two years ago while on maternity leave with her daughter. She reads to children from books by Black authors throughout Canada and the United States in an engaging way.

“I choose books with strong Black voices and imagery. This allows me to collaborate with independent Black authors and ensure that my channel is filled with books that have that same message,” said McDonald.

Inspired to combine her work with children, and her love of books- McDonald created her Youtube channel to promote diversity among children in Kingston, and to offer better representation to black children.

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Ruthy’s Reading Room has reached over 500 subscribers, and has shared over 90 books so far.

“I now have a radio show on Amherst Island radio 93.1. Every Saturday at 9 a.m., you can hear Ruthy’s Reading Room, audio version, said the Youtuber.

She also shared that she now has a podcast, and expects to work the local libraries in the fall.

“I’m making connections with the authors, the feedback afterwards from them has been really positive,” McDonald added.

Read more: Montreal author, community activist launches new book on Black history

The Kingston Frontenac Public Library has also been working hard to highlight voices from marginalized communities.

Jake Miller, the Programing and Outreach librarian at the central branch says they’ve released an Indigenous focused reading list, to reflect on the ongoing trauma Indigenous people face.

“The TRC wanted to raise awareness of issues related to residential schools, and the consequences of the residential schools so we said that if we could increase knowledge within the community. Knowledge breeds familiarity, familiarity breeds comradeship,” Miller explained.

So far, the library’s “Every Child Matters” reading list has all 21 books already checked out.

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“Just to have that direct feedback and validation from the public, and the Indigenous community that we’re on the right track. Like’please keep this’ it’s not a flavour of the month, this has been happening for centuries and we need attention brought to it. This is one way to do it,” said Miller.

Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s reading list is available to reserve online.

Ruthy’s Reading Room is accessible on Youtube any time of day or night.

Read more: Inclusive Literature initiative looks to provide more diversity in Calgary’s elementary schools

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