‘Little Free Libraries' Push for Diversity Across Country and World

The book-sharing boxes, which represent the global community, can be found in all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Massachusetts family is inspiring a national effort to help children feel comfortable talking and reading about racial diversity.

Book-sharing boxes, otherwise known as Little Free Libraries, are small public boxes where people can share books. The boxes, which represent the global community, can be found in all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries.

For the Doherty family, they believe diverse literature matters. So the family joined a growing effort to add more diverse books to the Little Free Libraries.

"We put a big box of books on our porch and just people came and grabbed some and put them in libraries in Scituate and then also as well as Cohasset and Norwell," said Doherty, a teacher.

She said she was inspired to get involved after reading about how the program was conceived by New York City school counselor, Sarah Kamya.

"It's such an important time to learn about differences, about the world we live in," Kamya said.

While staying with family back home in Arlington in June during the coronavirus pandemic and racial justice protests, Kamya said she saw very few books representing people of color in Arlington's Little Free Libraries.

That's when she posted on Instagram for donations.

"And within one hour I had received a thousand dollars of donations," Kamya said. "And it really just took off from there."

Her story made national headlines.

While Kamya started her project in Arlington, people in all 50 states are now creating Little Free Diverse Libraries, including the Dohertys.

"We tried to put in some details that just kind of elude to things of racial justice and diversity and equity," Emily's husband Conor Doherty said.

The family recently added a Little Free Diverse Library outside of their own home to continue supporting the cause.

"Those changes start small but can definitely lead -- I think a more hopeful future," Emily Doherty said.

For the Doherty's four-year-old son, Killen, he's now able to read about people of many backgrounds.

"So that kids are comfortable talking about race," Emily Doherty said. "If a black or a brown child were to pick up a book and only ever see white characters I think that doesn't validate their experience or make them feel seen."

Contact Us