“Conscious Kits” Pilot Project Launches this Friday: Picture Books with Discussion Guides for Caretakers

Contact: Tess Mayer
Director of Library Services
Berkeley Public Library

“Conscious Kits” Pilot Project Launches this Friday
Picture Books with Discussion Guides for Caretakers

Berkeley, California (September 7, 2022) – The Berkeley Public Library is launching Conscious Kits for Kids, a pilot collection of book discussion kits on racial equity, identity and social justice geared towards preschoolers ages 3-5 and their parents and caretakers. Kits will be available on library shelves this Friday, September 9, 2022.

“Conversations that address issues of social inequities and injustice can be challenging, especially with young children,” explains children’s librarian Sheila Lew. “It is our hope that these kits will support adults in having meaningful conversations with their preschoolers.”

Each kit includes three different picture books with discussion guides and a list of resources for the adults reading the books to the children. Four different themed kits are now available on the following topics:

Identity and Belonging - available in English or in Spanish
Social Justice
Disability Awareness

Kits can be checked out from any of the five Berkeley Public Library locations. Library card holders can place holds on kits in the online catalog.

Funding for this pilot project was provided by the generous support of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation.

"Public libraries play a vital role in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion,” notes Foundation Executive Director, Kathy Huff. “As a long-time funding partner for transformative literacy initiatives, we are excited about this pilot project which will provide such an engaging new collection of resources for children and families in our community."

Conscious Kits are one of several initiatives emanating from the work of the Berkeley Public Library’s Racial Justice Advisory Group (RJAG) staff team which was formed in 2021 after the Library applied for and was accepted into the California Racial Equity Initiative. RJAG members worked closely with the Library’s Collections team to develop these initial Conscious Kits.

Staff decided to focus on books for preschoolers for this pilot project due to the abundance of research that cites children as young as four years old exhibit and are impacted by biases.

“Kits for our younger patrons are just the beginning,” says Supervising Librarian for Collections, Bae Smith. “We anticipate expanding this pilot program and developing kits for patrons of additional age groupings in the future.”

For questions regarding Conscious Kits, call Sheila Lew at (510) 981-6054.

For questions regarding the Library’s Racial Justice Advisory Group (RJAG), please call Administration at (510) 981-6195.

For questions about additional Library events, services, hours and locations, please call (510) 981-6100 or visit the Library’s website www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org.