Meredith Attar and Suzanne Gray

Beginning this school year, a traveling book club kit is making the rounds at elementary schools. The book kit started as an idea by the Columbia Parent Association as part of their inclusion committee.

Last spring, the Columbia Parent Association was awarded a Project Neighborly Grant from the Whatcom Community Foundation for a traveling book club to help families learn to discuss race as it pertains to equity in our community. The parent association chose three books about race Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates, So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey. The parent group hosted three book clubs to talk about how these books changed their own perspectives on race and parenting.

Suzanne Gray, a board member of the Columbia Parent Association board last year, applied for the grant along with Columbia parents Liz Isaly, Meredith Attar and Litav Langley.

“Reading and discussing these books was challenging for everyone involved and it is my hope that other parent groups take on anti-racist work by engaging in difficult conversations and self-reflection,” said Gray.  “Our kids are learning about equity and inclusion at school, but parents are not part of those in-class conversations. Our goal was to help parents be partners in this work through self-evaluation and open dialogue.”

The traveling book club kit will make the rounds with school parent groups starting with Lowell Elementary this fall. Hilary Wilkinson, Lowell PTA president, said parents are looking forward to reading the books.

“When I shared the concept at our first PTA meeting there was a lot of strong support and enthusiasm for it, especially the subject, so I think we’re off to a good start,” Wilkinson said.

The traveling book club kit will be passed on to Parkview Elementary in winter 2020 and then to Happy Valley Elementary in spring 2020.

Here is a related story about grants provided by the Whatcom Community Foundation.

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