LIVONIA, Mich. – After attending a Black Lives Matter protest in her home town, a Livonia mother has begun raising money to combine her passion for activism and her love of reading, to bring children’s books with main characters of color to the Livonia library.
Carrie Budzinski is a life-long Livonia resident with a love for her local library. In school she worked there and often found herself reading, but growing up as a black girl in Livonia, which is mostly white, she was normally on her own.
“Race is such a defining part of my identity,” Budzinksi said. “Growing up people would ask me what am I, more than what is my name and from K through 4 grade I was the only person of color in my grade.”
Now, a mother of two children, she’s decided to start a book drive online to add to the Livonia library’s collection of books featuring black and brown characters. Something she wasn’t exposed to when she was young.
“It is a passion project just from my own experience. If I could have seen more people who looked like me I would’ve felt a lot more comfortable in my skin.”
So far, the drive is a GoFund Me fundraiser. Her goal was 500 dollars. Donors have given nearly twice that, pushing for more books to fill the shelves.
“Seeing yourself represented in a book collection when you go and it being natural in that forest, I think is so important,” Budzinksi said. “I think for kids who are like me or maybe sometimes feel a little different.”
But representation in children’s books is startlingly low. According to an annual study from the University of Wisconsin, only 11 percent of children’s books in 2018 showcased black characters. Only 5 percent were written by black authors.
“I think that’s the message we’re trying to send. black lives matter. We are here,” she said. “Look at us. See us. Accept us for who we are.”
The books bought with the funds raised won’t be exclusive to Livonia. Through the state’s library network, anyone will be able to order any of the books once they’re on the shelves. Budzinski said she will also post a running list of books she’s bought to donate once the fundraiser is over.