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The Back to School event is the first of a series of events, hosted by H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths, happening at the North Shore Esplanade in an effort to embrace the waterfront.
Primary among those local advocates was Heather Butts, a native New Yorker raised in Queens and co-founder of H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, a nonprofit guiding young people to reach their goals in life. Butts, who has spearheaded the placement of approximately 70 Little Free Libraries book-sharing boxes in neighborhoods around New York City, brought in several other organizations to assist LFL in bringing the Read in Color project to all five boroughs.
“I’ve always felt that the beauty of the Little Free Library concept is that it has something for everyone,” Butts said. “Over 800 different languages and dialects are spoken in New York City, and a third of the people living in New York City were born in a country other than the United States. My ultimate hope is that anyone who picks up a book from one of the Read in Color libraries sees something in the story that may be different from their own personal life, and yet at the same time, speaks very clearly to their own life.”
New York City is home to five special Little Free Library book-sharing boxes—one for each borough—highlighting books that feature diverse content, characters, and creators. The neighborhood libraries are part of the Little Free Library (LFL) nonprofit organization’s national Read in Color initiative, which will distribute 20,000 diverse books and 100 Little Free Libraries across the country this year.
New York’s Read in Color libraries are being established by LFL in partnership with H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths’ founder Heather Butts and various local nonprofit organizations. We are grateful to work alongside these outstanding collaborators.
“It is an honor to partner with the Little Free Library organization on the Read in Color initiative, which brings diverse books to Little Free Libraries globally,” said Butts. “Being part of giving individuals the ability to see the world from different perspectives is immensely gratifying. We are proud that the 5 Boroughs initiative in New York City is bringing this program to readers in Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn, and we look forward to the true change these Little Free Libraries will bring to the communities where they are installed.”
H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths thanked the following for making its college readiness conference with Curtis High School possible: Curtis teachers and staff, Con Edison, NY1, Staten Island Advance, the Mayor's Office, Principal Greg Jaenicke, Marie Rodriguez, Tom Hepworth, Joseph Baratta, Clementine R. Butts, Lu Willard, Thrive NYC, the HEALTH for Youths Board and Volunteers and of course all the amazing students and parents in attendance.
According to Heather Butts, the founder of the nonprofit H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths and the steward of numerous Little Free Libraries on Staten Island, anonymous donations of nonperishable foods in many of the tiny libraries have been regularly appearing, intended for anyone who may need them during the COVID-19 pandemic.