A group of D.C. teenagers have partnered with publisher Shout Mouse Press and literacy tutoring program Reach Incorporated to create children’s books centering around racial justice, in response to a number of police brutality incidents that occurred this year.
In the last seven years, more than eighty teens have enrolled in Shout Mouse Press and Reach Incorporated’s literacy program, which is a five-week summer program where teenagers have the opportunity to work with story coaches, illustrators, and a historian to create and publish a children’s book. This links with Reach’s traditional program during the school year, where the company recruits, hires, and trains teenagers facing social and academic challenges to tutor younger children struggling with reading. This program results in improved literacy for both the students and tutors.
Shout Mouse has already published over thirty books by young authors enrolled in the Reach literacy program, but this year saw a particular emphasis on racial justice in the books being created. Founder of Shout Mouse, Kathy Crutcher said, “eight-year-olds all over the country were witnessing the horrific muder of George Floyd. They were learning about Breonna Taylor….so we gotta address that.” Books written through the Reach program this year include Breonna Marches Through Time by Daveena Kenny, Shatyia Givens, Jocktavius Montford, and Geralyn Hooks and And Justice For Who? by Emilie Kpadea, Japan Spells, and Damarco Taylor.
While some parents questioned whether the subject matter of these books were appropriate for kids, Shout Mouse and Reach Incorporated believe their collaboration is meant to show children they aren’t alone in moments of hardship and struggle. Emilie Kpadea, co-author of And Justice for Who? says, “[These books] will help [kids] to just be safe and understand, not to scare them about the world, but to understand how the world is. So whenever something like this happens, they won’t be surprised.”
Feature image via Shout Mouse Press