Doorways opened its very own little library to ensure families have a variety of books at “home,” even while they are living in a shelter. Research shows many positive impacts of growing up with books at home and being read to as a child, including a million-word boost in vocabulary by kindergarten. Beyond that, books can open entire worlds to their readers.
The library is part of Doorways’ ongoing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives. Its curated collection features diverse characters, perspectives, and experiences to empower children to see themselves in stories, as well as those who are different, to help them build confidence, empathy, and understanding. Current titles include The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Skin Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, plus more.
“Our multilingual collection of books was carefully selected to share characters and stories from all over the world. These books are a representation of our community and our deepest desire for all of our clients and neighbors to feel welcome and belonging,” said Doorways’ President and CEO Diana Ortiz. “This little library allows each of us to see ourselves in beautiful stories and inspires us to see the courage and bravery of our own narratives.”
Doorways celebrated the library’s official opening with a small gathering of supporters, including its founding sponsor Zarina Ram, architect Jim MacGregor, and artist Alina Sagatov.
“In all of creation we were given this unique gift and power,” said Ram. “The power of language and words give us the ability to inspire, to create, to connect. My wish is that this little library will give women and children who have survived oppression a chance to experience empathy by walking in another’s shoes through the books they read; an escape to a world beyond that which they know, which will inspire them to dream bigger than they could’ve ever imagined; and a platform to create a future that enables them to realize their deepest desires and passions so they, too, can one day say they were able to live their best possible life to the fullest because they were not alone, felt connected, and could put words to what they already know inside – finding courage and empathy to express and manifest that which is within through the words and journey of another.”
Doorways is a community-based nonprofit providing shelter, supportive housing, and services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as youth and families experiencing homelessness. Learn more and get involved at www.doorwaysva.org/donate.