The Importance of Books that Look Like Me!
February 2021
Reading Books With Characters Who "Look Like Me"
The books we read as children do more than sweep us off to sleep at bedtime, teach us our letters, and help prepare us for school. They also serve as mirrors and windows...mirrors as we learn who we are and windows as we discover the outside world. The bad news: over the past 24 years, only 13% of children’s books published contain multicultural content. (Lee & Low Books).

Fortunately, that is changing, and there is an increasing appetite for books with more diverse characters, more inclusive storylines, and culturally varied settings. Click on this very interesting report from Scholastic Kids & Family about the desire for book diversity among parents and children. In another Scholastic Parents article, learn why it's important for kids to see themselves in books, with characters who "look like me." (Photo Credit: © FatCamera/iStockphoto)

Last month, we began a new feature: BOOK BABIES! Why? Because pictures help tell the love-of-reading story! Do you have a photo of a baby or toddler "reading" ... or at least trying?! If so, send in your favorite photo(s) to our email: We will publish one new photo a month in the newsletter and on our website (with absolutely no names). All we need from you is approval to use the photo in our media.

February's BOOK BABY: Making Good Choices...Book 1, Play Table 0
A Christmas Eve Book Celebration at ACCA!

Thanks to a generous grant from the Vineyard Family Foundation, ACCA, the Annandale Christian Community for Action, staged a NOVA RIF book distribution the day before Christmas. The children were able to pick a book to take home to read over their break. What a wonderful way to start the holidays!
The South County WIC program also got a shipment of books, courtesy of the Vineyard Family Foundation, with five boxes of shiny new board books for small kids to read as they wait for the doctor! Thank you to NOVA RIF board member Bradley Vineyard and the VFF!!!!
The Perfect Winter Vacation Day

The families of the Even Start Family Literacy program in Arlington started the holiday season with a beautiful bag of gifts, organized by NOVA RIF liaison and program director Sara Mulrooney. "Our holiday bags were based on the theme of the perfect winter vacation day. Our families got warm hats and mittens for all kids, cocoa, new games, and food assistance." And, of course, new NOVA RIF books were part of this most wonderful package! Beautiful, Sara!
Meet author Carylee Carrington and read about her book Pretty Hair. Her story is the latest in our New Books with a NOVA Connection series.
Dora Sue Black, librarian at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary in Arlington, recommends three books that celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. Find that on our Books 'n Blogs 'n Articles of Note page.
Searching for book ideas for Black History Month, diversity, and multiculturalism? Look no further than our resource page on the topic. Find that by clicking here.
NOVA RIF Community Advisory Board member Ramunda Young and her husband Derrick have been in the news! They are co-owners of Mahogany Books, an indie bookstore in D.C. During a recent virtual book club meeting to discuss The Promised Land, a surprise visitor dropped in...former President Barack Obama. Enjoy a Today Show feature about the event by clicking here! Congratulations!
Want to help us? Here are some very cool ways to pitch in!
Pick a Card!
Help RIF NOVA!!!
Through February 14

RIF of NOVA supporter and former Lynbrook Elementary School teacher Caithlin Allen is doing something unique to raise funds for NOVA RIF. She is hosting an online fundraiser called Cards for a Cause. Here are the deets!

Cards for a Cause offers four box sets with 30 cards each and one box with 50 cards. Each box is $30, making each card a fantastic price and a great gift for friends and family! Caithlin is donating a sizable portion of each card box sold to buy books for RIF of NOVA's community of children. As she says, "So many of us are fortunate to have books at our fingertips, and that is not the case for many children here in Northern Virginia."

The Cards for a Cause fundraiser is open to NOVA RIF purchasers through February 14. Please find the link to order here:
Another way to help is to contribute books

During the pandemic, we are accepting NEW or GENTLY used books (as like-new as possible!).
One of our book contributors is Tharren Clark, a graduate of New York University and a child of two educators. He grew up with books and tries to bring that experience to others with an annual donation of new books that he purchases throughout the year. He has given to California RIF in the past, when he lived in Los Angeles, helping the Afro-Latino community. This is his second new book donation to NOVA RIF. His first collection was donated to young readers at Kenmore Middle School and Carlin Springs Elementary School, both in Arlington. Thank you, Tharren! You rock!
Meghan Wang utilized an opportunity to host an Usborne Book Party to collect books for NOVA RIF. Since her own children, fifteen-month old Margot and three-year old Julian, love the many books they have in their house, Meghan decided to use the hostess credits to purchase books for RIF of NOVA children so that they, too, can have books in their homes.
The Vesey White family has been doing holiday book drives for children for 18 years. Despite the pandemic, they continued this special holiday tradition in 2020. This time, four-year-old Danny was happy to help his family with the drive, and he was proud to assist with his family’s third annual book donation to NOVA RIF children. One of Danny's favorite books is I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen -- so he donated a new copy of the book, hoping another child will love the story, too!
Ben (7) and Zoe (9) Powell-Switaj contributed 66 books in early January, saying they wanted to donate to children who may not have as many books as they do. Fourth-grader Zoe says her favorite book is Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Benton's favorite books come from the Scaredy Squirrel series. All great choices!
Donated Books for Black History Month...and Beyond!

If you have or want to collect books, contact us at We will arrange to pick them up. So far, we have collected more than 4,000 books, and over 2,200 have new homes in the RIF of NOVA community! A full list of book donors can be found on our website at:
Corresponding secretary Melissa Hinkson took time from her teaching day to add Black History Month titles at Hoffman Boston Elementary School in Arlington.
NOVA RIF VP Jim Abrams delivered several Black History Month titles to the Little Free Library collection at Kilby ES in Prince William County.
Bailey's Upper School librarian and NOVA RIF liaison Linda Lindgren (l) accepted boxes of donated books from NOVA RIF president Justina Johnson.
Need reading ideas? Try the 2021 ALA Winners!

The American Library Association announced winners and honorees of its top honors at its annual conference in January. For a complete list of the 2021 winners, click here.
Newbery Medal
Caldecott Medal
Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Coretta Scott King
Author Award
*Contribute online by Paypal or credit card at:

Donate links can be found on every page of our website, too.
*Send a check to our mailbox:
P. O. Box 7012
Arlington, VA 22207-0012
Other options to help:

*Register with Type in Reading is Fundamental of Northern Virginia, Inc. to select us as the charity you want to support. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to RIF of NOVA. With all our current online ordering, the 0.5% can really add up!
*Set up a fundraiser for a birthday or anniversary on Facebook and solicit donations for RIF of NOVA. Ask us how by sending an email here!

*If your workplace holds a United Way campaign, designate RIF of NOVA as your chosen philanthropy. Our United Way # is 8959.

Thank you for any donation -- no matter how big or small! And thank you for being part of the RIF of NOVA community!
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