As the state of Florida combs through textbooks to ban content with diverse views, a national campaign pledges to deliver a million free books with diverse titles to encourage students to understand more about the world around them.
The “Reading Opens the World” campaign – launched by the nation’s second-largest teachers union – is designed to promote literacy by giving away a variety of free books that highlight Latino, Black, Asian and other diverse sets of authors.
Fedrick Ingram – secretary-treasurer with the American Federation of Teachers – said he’s disappointed to see Gov. Ron DeSantis take such strong stances to censor learning.
“Unfortunately, people want to politicize what’s going on in our classroom and with our teachers and with our students,” said Ingram. “But we have to do what we need to do as educators and as an education organization, and that is put kids first.”
With little evidence, the DeSantis administration claims elements of “critical race theory” were found in 54 math textbooks it rejected for its K-12 curriculum.
The federation’s book giveaway mobile will stop at four schools in Volusia County on Friday, and another giveaway is set for May 14 in Broward County – with remaining stops in New York and West Virginia.
Ingram said the federation purchased a million books with the intent of traveling around the country, distributing them in rural, urban and low-income areas.
“Books challenge their mind,” said Ingram. “Books open the world to their understanding of culture of dynamics that are happening around them. It gives them a better appreciation of who they are.”
DeSantis and several other Republican leaders have been advancing bills and making laws against public schools and private companies inflicting any sense of “discomfort” on white people during lessons or trainings about discrimination.
However, the American Federation of Teachers says teaching honest history helps kids learn the good and the bad about the country and emerge as engaged citizens.