Reading Is Resistance Project with James John School (by Nick, Katryna, Leslie, and Jason)



Intro (Voiced by Katryna)

“Our partner in community team is proud to announce our contributions to the reading is resistance project and our work at the James John Library!…

Non-profit 101 (Voiced by Nick)

As a team our main goal was to complete our project in a manner that would allow for future capstone classes to pick up right where we left with little to no question as to what the next steps look like. To streamline this process we created a step by step guide to incorporating a nonprofit organization in the state of Oregon. It is our hope that once this organization is formed, the mission of reading is resistance and our partnership with the James John School will be sustainable well into the future through the receipt of tax deductible donations.

Library purging (Voiced by Leslie)

…We partnered up with James John to purge the school’s current library. Our goal was to make sure the library was up to date with material that fostered ideas and messages about diversity and inclusivity. We wanted the library’s content to reflect the demographic of the school and with that our goal was to get rid of any negative or destructive material that plagued the school library. This prompted a need for new inventory!…

Reading is Resistance Book list (Voiced by Katryna)      

…We wanted to come up with a way to replenish the library after the purge, this is where the creation of a diverse book list comes in with a focus on Latinx culture! With an initial goal of 100 books, we are hoping this is a stepping stone to an elaborate resource for more libraries and teachers and specifically to create a library at James John that can reflect the students who use it…

Diverse literature (Voiced by Jason)

…Lastly we researched and compiled a list of benefits of diversity in school libraries. This list will be shared with others as a reminder of why diversity is so important. Diversity offers the ability for children to interact with other individuals from diverse cultures and creates understanding of how cultures are integrated together within our larger society. When children see themselves in books they get a glimpse of what they might become, and sometimes find role models within these pages…

To be Continued… (Voiced by Leslie)

…Our hope is is that these projects take a life of their own. Including the completion of a purged library, initiating a fundraiser to begin restocking shelves, encouraging the creation of more nonprofits and spreading the benefits of diverse libraries in all schools!

What and Why We Did This Project

adorable blur bookcase books

Photo by Pixabay on

Our team had the opportunity of working together this term to contribute to the reading is resistance project started by our very own Zapoura! Throughout the course we tackled topics concerning race, class, gender, politics and diversity within the realm of the Public School system, mainly the K-12 grade range. We were able to dissect the inequalities, intersectionalities, progression and setbacks that the school system faces on a daily basis. Our knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of these issues provided motivation for focusing our efforts in the following projects: compiling a list of over 100 books, building an easy to read resource for anyone who wants to start their own non-profit, purging the James John Library and putting together a document listing the importance of cultivating a diverse library.

The Book List

In order to correctly address the problems of under-representation, we needed to research more diverse books. This process started with a simple search that lead to hundreds of lists compiled by others with specific focuses. Our task was then to combine them, finding the standouts amongst the hordes. A defining moment in any young reader’s life is identifying with the character of their favorite books and the struggles that character faces; this can help them in establishing their own identity and cope with whatever life has thrown their way. This list has books from grade pre-k to 9th grade (for the more advanced readers). Many of the chapter books are part of larger series allowing the reader to continue on with the characters. The hope for this list is that it can be passed on to the next group, growing and evolving as the students do.

Non-Profit Research

At the beginning of our project we were advised that Reading is Resistance was interested in forming or becoming part of a non-profit organization. Doing this would allow them to solicit tax deductible donations from community members and businesses. The process of incorporating is relatively easy, however the preparation needed prior to incorporating can seem overwhelming.  One of our team’s main goals from the beginning of our project was to leave it in a manner in which incoming capstone classes could pick up right where we left off. To ease the stress of becoming a non-profit organization and to provide a launch pad for incoming classes, we created a step-by-step guide to the formation of a non-profit organization in the State of Oregon.

By using this guide, it is our hope that Reading is Resistance will grow into an organization capable of receiving donations while granting scholarships, materials and technology to James John School and any future partners they may have.

Book Purging

The process of purging books was much more difficult than we thought. When first discussing with Robin Rolfe, this project had been long overdue. As the sole contributor to the library’s upkeep and maintenance, Robin’s efforts to clean up the inventory is a slow process that requires attention and dedication. This task was definitely not busy work which is a common sentiment with much volunteer work as it was contributing to the education of the kids who use the library as a resource. The process of purging begins with looking at the book’s condition, if the book has missing pages, dirty, tattered or spine is falling apart, it was put aside. If the book is visibly promoting a negative stereotype of a certain group of people that too was grounds for removing it from the library. Lastly, if the book was not necessarily contributing any educational value to the library that would be up for removal as well.

The books that were set aside had three destinations: donated to the school’s families, transferred to another library that would make use of it or it was recycled. Books that were simply tattered or provided any information contributing to a student’s education and didn’t promote any negativity were donated once they were determined weren’t being requested or needed in another school library. Books that promote or contributed to any inequalities, stereotypes or negative messages were recycled. The purpose for that is to stop the spreading of false narratives throughout the community and the education of future generations.

Diversity Document

In this part of the project, we wanted to research some facts and statements about why diversity is so important in a school library.  Many people would agree that diversity is important, but sometimes it is hard to articulate why.  So as we collected these facts, we compiled them into a document that will be passed on to the next capstone class, as a reminder of how much it means to the children to be able to read diverse literature.  Having diversity in the library not only allows the students to explore different peoples and cultures, it also allows everyone to find themselves as positive characters in a book.

“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” – Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop

For the Future:

Our hope for the next term’s group is for them to continue the purging process. It is a time consuming but exciting process that requires care and dedication. With the removal of the books we will need to restock the inventory. Leaving it up to future capstone classes to initiate the process of acquiring those books, either through a fundraiser or reaching out to organizations who have previously donated books. The latter would require an examination of new material added to the library. The fundraiser’s purpose is to begin purchasing the books in the list our team has compiled!

As for the book list, a great improvement that could be achieved with next term’s group would be to convert it to an excel document! This would make it much more accessible. Also, discussing with Robin of merging our list of books with hers to enable a search function to appeal to the teachers who use this for reference.

Ideally, future capstone classes of all varieties, not just those in education could utilize our “how-to” guide to form a non-profit organization. We believe the sustainability of the organization lies in its ability to raise money and receive grants. We strongly encourage future students to take over right where we left off in this component of our project and file the articles of incorporation!

Another improvement to the diversity document is to convert it into a poster or flyer of sorts to market/promote diversity in libraries around all schools! This would allow the document to live on through future students.  Teaching librarians as to why diversity is to important, and becoming a motivational force to make changes in their own libraries.


8 thoughts on “Reading Is Resistance Project with James John School (by Nick, Katryna, Leslie, and Jason)

  1. Wow. Great job guys. I particularly love the fact that you set future groups up for success. Such a cool cause and something that I think gets overlooked quite a bit these days.

  2. You guys should really be proud of the work we did this term. I know that at times it didn’t feel like we were doing much, but we really helped out James John! Any time we can get people thinking about reading books and the importance of content is time well spent! It really was a pleasure working with all of you! Good luck in all of your future endeavors! Cheers!!!

  3. Yes! I, like Kent loved the way that you set this project up for future students to carry it on. Also, I liked how you incorporated the demographic of the school that you were working in your library purge. I think that is very important too in terms of representation. A few things stood out to me in your presentation as being exceptional.
    1. New library = how cultures are integrated within a larger society.
    2. Books represent a under represented population.
    3.Diversity is important, but sometimes it is hard to articulate why.
    4. Library Diversity = an allowance for students to explore different people and cultures and for everyone to be able to find themselves in positive characters within a book.
    Great job guys!

  4. The book purging sounds so interesting. Especially the ones that you have to look for that are rasist. Because its in more books than you would imagine. Great work. You guys were so thoughtful.

  5. This is so thorough and detailed; it is clear you guys not only cared immensely for this project, but that you used the tools from class to ensure success for yourselves and the future volunteers. This is great work and y’all should be proud!

  6. Thanks for your comments everyone! Like Nick mentioned it didn’t seem like we did very much at the time and maybe that is a good thing, that it didn’t seem like work. This was very fun for us and we were happy to contribute to the diversification of libraries just like the other groups this term 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing your project! I really liked how you created a guide to making a non-profit. Our group did something similar revolving around the bake sale. We created a list and some tips on how to have a bake sale that was quick, easy, and profitable. I’m glad that your group (and ours) had the future PIC teams in mind. Since this course allows only for short-term work, it is good to see groups also thinking about how we can enact long-term change even if we are not there to see it occur.

  8. Great job guys! I really like how you guys created a guide for future groups to follow. This is extremely important due to how quickly a term goes by and how soon new individuals will take over. You guys really set up the next group up for success! Thank you for doing the hard work in getting the process started to make the organization a non-profit. It is this type of behind the scenes work that really allows for an organization to be successful.

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