At 10 years old, Cora Newton is a librarian. Not only that, but she owns her own library.
It’s a “little library,” one of 150,000 around the world. About the size of a large birdhouse, these popular libraries can be seen on people’s lawns and in areas where a regular-sized library may be far away.
People in the community can leave a book in the little library for others to read or they can borrow a book, for free.
In May, Newton, who lives in Louisiana, US, sat in on a meeting of the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control. She listened to a discussion about a possible ban (in this case, ban means “removal from the library”) of a non-fiction book about LGBTQ identities called This Book is Gay.
After discussing the issue, the board decided not to ban the book from the library.
However, the discussion gave Newton an idea. She would make sure the book, and other banned books, were more widely available in her neighbourhood. She had been wanting to build a little library anyway, and this seemed like a good reason for it.
She told The Advocate magazine that she also hopes that her actions will help to sway the library board not to ban books in the future.
Children’s author Robin Stevenson says it’s important for all kids, including 2SLGBTQ kids, to see themselves reflected in the books they read.
“LGBTQ+ characters can help them understand themselves better and feel less alone,” she says.
“These books are important for other kids too. Learning about other people’s experiences helps us all understand the world we live in and maybe even how we can make it better.”
Newton is collecting books with information and stories that include 2SLGBTQ people. Her little library will also include other books that have been banned.
June is Pride Month in the United States and Canada. During Pride Month, 2SLGBTQ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, queer or questioning) identities are celebrated so 2SLGBTQ people can be understood and accepted for who they are.
THINK & DISCUSS
- Have you heard about “book banning”? What is it? What are some books that have been banned, and why? Would you read those books? Why or why not?
- Is there something about yourself that you don’t find represented in most books? If so, how does that make you feel? How do you think it would make someone feel if the books you read or movies you watched rarely featured people who were like them?
- June is Pride month in Canada, the United States and other countries. It started after LGBT people were unfairly targetted by the police in at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, NY in 1969. Many people marched in protest. Now, each year in June people celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT people by holding marches and gatherings. What do you know about Pride month? Why do you think it’s necessary today?
LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION
Find out more about Little Libraries on their website.
Lithub article about Cora Newton’s little queer library.
Sans Paquet bookstore in Lafayette is taking book donations for Newton’s Little Queer Library.
Toronto Public Library’s Reading with Pride list for kids and families
New York Times’ 15 LGBTQ books for kids and teens recommended by queer librarians, educators and independent booksellers.