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Portland schools receive thousands of books celebrating immigrants and refugees

1,200 books were dropped off at every Portland public school on Thursday as part of a "Big Read" event.

PORTLAND, Maine — Kids in Maine have been back in school for a few weeks now, and as teachers begin to roll out their lesson plans for the year, classrooms in Portland got a drop-off of new supplies on Thursday. 

As part of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, 1,200 new books were left at every public school in the city.

Kirsten Cappy is the executive director of the organization I'm Your Neighbor Books based in Portland. The group is one piece of the mission to bring books that focus on celebrating immigrants and refugees to Maine schools.

“Not only for [students] to see themselves reflected in books in their schools, but for the long-term kids to have a connection to their classmates," Cappy said.

City Councilor and I'm Your Neighbor Books President Pious Ali said "the population of Portland schools is changing," and books highlighting all cultures and backgrounds can make a big difference in a town or city.

Credit: NCM

“It builds relationships and it builds communities," Ali said. "You have a sense of belonging, it gives you that feeling of being rooted in that community.”

Meg Brooks is a librarian at Gerard Talbot Community School. She said the school had some of the book titles before Thursday, but now her students will be able to discuss topics in small groups or in literature circles.

Brooks also said adding representation of all backgrounds is an important step to take.

“In education, we talk a lot about the concept of windows and mirrors," she said. “Windows looking out on different perspectives and mirrors, being able to see yourself.”

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