Return to Headlines

Multicultural Book Fair Provides Powerful Path to Understanding

Kids at book fair by table of booksOn Thursday, June 1, and Friday, June 2, the Cochran Gym was transformed into a library of literature for the Seventh Annual Multicultural Book Fair (MCBF).

Students from across the district's three buildings participated. Some huddled together in a circle flipping through the crisp pages of a new book, while others perused the tables and shelves filled with colorful paperbacks.

Material was organized by reading level, and in one corner of the gym, a wall displayed the work of The Race Matters Committee Art Contest winners. A quote from Diane Nash, American Civil Rights Activist, served as the wall's focal point.

"Freedom, by definition, is people realizing that they are their own leaders."

The MCBF is the brainchild of Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Dr. Jenice Mateo-Toledo.

"The idea came from articles I read related to literature and inclusion. Research suggests that one is more open to diverse perspectives and ways of life when they communicate and build relationships with others who are different from them. The next best way to build understanding is to provide education about other cultures through literature," said Mateo-Toledo.

Kids at bookfair by bulliton board wall with notes on it"I designed the Book Fair to include literature to feature individuals who may be perceived as 'different' or relegated to the margins of society due to factors such as, but not limited to, race, ability, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion."

Mateo-Toledo partnered with Co-Chair of the MCBF Marie-Louise Miller, as well as key members of the PTSA-Inclusion Working Group (PTSA-IWG), to make the Book Fair a success.

"The MCBF is a unique opportunity for our students, teachers and parents to read books they might not find elsewhere," said Miller. "We work together to create an assortment of recently published books, including award-winners and classics. We encourage those in attendance to browse before they settle on a particular book. Sampling a variety of authors allows the reader to dip into the rich and exciting nature of the world at large."

Superintendent McKersie also weighed in on the Fair's positive impact.

"At the Book Fair’s core is the rigorous view that the written word is a powerful path to understanding our diverse histories, cultures and experiences," he wrote in his latest Community Update.

Bringing the MCBF to life is a short behind-the-scenes video clip below.