MILWAUKEE – “Hey neighbor, we’ll see you soon,” reads outside the soon-to-be-empty storefront at 5312 W. Vilet St. in Milwaukee.
The brick building is the future home of Rooted MKE, a children’s bookstore, a tutoring center and a creators’ space centered on the BIPOC (Blacks, Aboriginals and people of color).
“There is usually only a small section dedicated to books that represent children of color,” said Ashley Valentine, owner of Rooted MKE, explaining why she wanted to open her own bookstore. “I wanted to make sure my kids had a place they could go, that they knew they weren’t just pictured in a small space, but that the space was completely dedicated to them and featured a wide range of things. ‘stories. “
Valentine is a former Milwaukee Public School teacher with a background in special education and literacy. Her hope is to bring various books to more homes.
“You don’t have to be a person of color to be able to live a story about a character of color,” Valentine said. “However, you make your favorite books in your household, colored books should also be among those titles.”
An easy place to access various titles is also important. According to 2019 research from Cooperative Youth Book Center At UW Madison, only 11.9% of the main characters in children’s books are black / African, 8.7% of the main characters are Asian / Asian American, 5.3% are Latinx, and 1% are indigenous / First Nations.
In addition to a diverse selection of books, there will also be tutoring available and space for children and families to get creative.
In the creators’ space, Valentine said, “Kids can come in and choose a skill that they want to work on that relates to the book. They can come into the creators space and then be able to create something that they want to work on. helps to work on comprehension strategies or more broadly to examine an idea or topic presented in the book, then create something of their own to take with them. This allows (children) to use their hands and think about creatively and innovatively while combining some of the literacy skills that are introduced.
Tutoring through Rooted MKE is already underway, so far with a focus on reading and math.
The bookstore is still under construction, but its opening is scheduled for January.
For updates on the store opening, as well as to learn more about the tutoring program, you can follow MKE rooted on Facebook.
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