• Katha Pollitt
  • Inspire Young Women with Great Books by Women: You Can Help!
Inspire Young Women with Great Books by Women: You Can Help!
Written by
Katha Pollitt
November 2009
Written by
Katha Pollitt
November 2009
Well, the hits just keep on coming, don’t they? First PW, now the NBA – this year its winners’ list was as male as the other NBA, the one with tall guys and hoops. What can be done? One group of women fiction writers that meets regularly talked about setting up a prize for fiction by women, similar to the Orange Prize, but even leaving aside the argument that it would ghettoize books by women even further, to do it properly would take a couple of million dollars. But there’s something you can do right now that will help build a readership for great books by women (and doesn’t cost a million): Donate books by women to the Women's Academy of Excellence in the Bronx. ReadThis is an organization which runs books drives for NYC-area public schools and other book-hungry places. (SheWrites member Biz Mitchell is co-founder and quiding spirit; I’m on the board.) Right now, ReadThis is collecting books for the Women’s Academy of Excellence, a public all-women’s high school with a mostly low-income Afro-American and Latina student population. This school needs everything, from Shakespeare to dictionaries. Wouldn’t it be great if besides the Bard and Webster and the books by men other donors will surely be sending, the school library had lots of wonderful books by women? Can you donate one (or more!) of your favorites? New books would be splendid, of course, but you can also shop at home: used books in good condition are fine (no underlining, not all yellowed and crumbly, nonfiction should be recent). A few suggestions: Push, The Bluest Eye, Sula, The Color Purple, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The House on Mango Street, anything by Edwige Danticat, In the Time of the Butterflies, Esperanza Rising, The Woman Warrior, Persepolis, Kindred, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, Dreaming in Cuban. YA is also fine-- maybe the YA writers here can suggest some titles. And what about nonfiction: biographies, art books, history, science, nature, sexual health and info, relationships? And POETRY. Many young girls actually like poetry. A lot of NYC students can't easily get to the public library. Often they have to go home right after school to care for younger sibs while their parents work. So school and classroom libraries are crucial resources. Don't worry about multiple copies. If the school ends up with more copies than it needs, the extras will be given to interested students to keep. I’ll be buying a bunch of books later, and could use ideas, so please post below. It’s been a long time since I was in high school! here’s the info: ReadThis Book Drive for the Women's Academy of Excellence in the Bronx, a public high school How: These high-school students need everything, especially plays, including Shakespeare, Miller, Sophocles, and Wilson; collections of short stories, dictionaries, thesauri, and supplies for AP classes. The only caution is that the nonfiction needs to be up-to-date. Also please do not donate books with underlining. Mail your books Media Mail rate to: Rebecca Tyler/ ReadThis Book Donations Women's Academy of Excellence 456 White Plains Road Bronx, NY 10473 T: 718-542-0740 If you would like to get on our email list, contact us at [email protected] or join on Facebook: ReadThis. For more information on the Women's Academy of Excellence: http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/08/X282/default.htm Thank you very much. If you have a chance, please let us know how many books you sent at [email protected], so we can track the total donations. If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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  • Nancy Gruver

    Great thing to do - we'll donate copies of New Moon and of my book.

  • GloriaFeldt

    I recently gave 12 boxes of books to a Bronx high school through Read This and highly recommend its work. Thanks for letting us know about the Women's Academy, Katha--I have 30 more boxes of books stored in AZ and this gives me motivation to go through them and send them to such a worthy endeavor.