Words and Action: Supporting Equity through the Holiday Book Drive

For nearly a decade, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County has been hosting an Annual Holiday Book Drive. The goal, at the surface level, is simple- raise enough money and garner enough new book donations to fulfill community partner requests. These books, then, make their way into the hands of thousands of students across Buncombe County. 

But the Annual Holiday Book Drive is not simple - in the sense that this drive connects to the larger goal of UWABC and focuses on filling a very specific gap that persists in Buncombe County and across the United States.  We, of course, are talking about the opportunity gap, which is the term most often used to describe unequal or differential access to resources, opportunities, and privileges that exist among different groups in society. The opportunity gap is often based on factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, or geographic location. Here at UWABc we believe this is wrong and that no external factors should affect the quality of opportunity every person receives.




If you have been in the orbit of UWABC, you know that through the Bold Community Goal and the Community School Strategy we are working to provide important supports to close the opportunity gap. Each UWABC employee is dedicated to ensuring that ALL children have equitable access to resources that will help them thrive. A part of these resources are books, and when we talk about books, we often think of language and writing, which are essential elements of academic success. However, for students who are not native English speakers, access to books to which they can directly relate to the main character can be far from equitable compared to their native English-speaking peers. This inequity was a main driver for Marsha Almodovar, UWABC Schools Partnership Manager, to author her own children's book.


Almodovar said before writing her children's book, “Mucho, Mucho”, “ I just saw that there were some Spanish books, but they didn't have a story kind of a touch. There weren't a lot of bilingual books either. They were either all in Spanish or I would translate them.” 

The fact that bilingual students were missing out on essential stories didn’t sit well with Marsha, especially with the Bold Community Goal in mind. She realized it was not in line with the mission of creating a community where all can thrive if bilingual students don’t see themselves represented in the media they are consuming. So with that, Almodovar wrote and illustrated a children's book to contribute to closing the opportunity gap. 


“I think that when you give a kid a book or something that they can see themselves in and something in their language,” said Almodovar, “it gives them confidence to be seen and to feel, you know, like somebody has seen who they are.”


Her creation of a spanish first- bilingual children novel, with a female Afro-Latina main character helped to expand Buncombe County’s access to children's books with diverse characters. She also made an individual contribution to working to close the opportunity gap. Individual acts like the one Marsha Almodovar did, create a snowball effect and build upon the power of community and collective action. You too can help close the literature opportunity gap, and no you do not have to write your own children book! By donating to the Annual Book Drive or the Live United Fund you are making an essential contribution to our community and playing your individual role in solving a collective issue.




Don't Stop Here!

Learn More about the Annual Holiday Book Drive 

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