The Boston Book Festival (BBF) has announced the 2021 recipients of its library donation and author school-visit program, the Shelf Help School Partnership. Since 2015, the Shelf Help program has supplemented school libraries that lack adequate means to provide their students with access to a variety of recently published, age-appropriate books within the Greater Boston area. This year, the Shelf Help program will augment the school libraries of Chinatown’s Josiah Quincy Elementary School and Chelsea High School.
“We are delighted to continue our Shelf Help program and bring culturally relevant texts and stories to two new schools this year,” said Norah Piehl, executive director of Boston Book Festival. “School communities have been uniquely affected by the pandemic and we hope that this partnership will help students reconnect with the joys of learning and literature.”
From now through December 15, 2021, donors will be able to help each library reach its goal of $1,500 to purchase approximately 100 award-winning titles curated by the schools to reflect their populations’ diversity. Donors can make a monetary contribution via donor links for Josiah Quincy Elementary School and Chelsea High School. BBF attendees and festival-goers will also be encouraged to help the schools extend their book offerings during the festival October 16-23.
“As a multicultural school we are currently trying to increase our culturally diverse texts for our black and Latinx students and books celebrating Asian heritage,” said Heidi Boulogne, librarian, Josiah Quincy Elementary School. “Students are happy to see books with characters that look like them and that celebrate their culture. It is also important for our students to see realities and experiences different from their own.”
In addition to the library expansions, the BBF has partnered with Wondermore, a local non-profit dedicated to bringing acclaimed authors and illustrators into underserved classrooms across Boston for curriculum-aligned presentations and interactive discussions. Wondermore will provide each Shelf Help recipient with a special author visit as a part of the program.
Trenton Bordok, a second-year librarian at Chelsea High School, said, “This is fantastic news for our community. We are all so excited to have new sources of books! Chelsea has never had a visit from a well-known author, and I believe the Shelf Help program will help us create a culture of reading within the school.”
In May, the BBF solicited nominations from schools in the Greater Boston Area that could use assistance developing their collections of contemporary books and have a dedicated library professional and space. The selection committee included representatives from the BBF, Wondermore, and Boston Public School Library Services.
The 2021 edition of the BBF will take place between October 16 and 23, offering events throughout the week and two weekend festivals. This year’s schedule along with presenters will be announced later this summer and will feature presenters covering a diversity of topics spanning today’s most pressing issues, including racial justice, post-pandemic lessons, science, politics, technology, climate change and activism.