Portland schools receive books celebrating immigrants and refugees

1,200 books were dropped off at all public schools in Portland on Thursday as part of a “Big Read” event.

PORTLAND, Maine — Children in Maine have been back in school for a few weeks now, and as teachers begin rolling out their lesson plans for the year, Portland classrooms received new supplies Thursday.

As part of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, 1,200 new books were left in all public schools across the city.

Kirsten Cappy is the executive director of the Portland-based organization I’m Your Neighbor Books. The group is part of the mission to bring books that focus on celebrating immigrants and refugees to Maine schools.

“Not only for [students] to see themselves reflected in their school books, but for the kids in the long run to have a connection with their classmates,” Cappy said.

Councilman and President of I’m Your Neighbor Books Pious Ali said “Portland’s school population is changing” and books that showcase all cultures and backgrounds can make a big difference. difference in a town or city.

“It builds relationships and it builds communities,” Ali said. “You have a sense of belonging, it makes you feel rooted in this community.”

Meg Brooks is a librarian at the Gerard Talbot Community School. She said the school had some book titles available by Thursday, but her students will now be able to discuss topics in small groups or in literary circles.

Brooks also said adding representation from all walks of life is an important step to take.

“In education, we talk a lot about the concept of windows and mirrors,” she said. “Windows with different perspectives and mirrors, being able to see yourself.”

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