Utah grade 4 student raises funds for inclusive library books


PROVO, Utah (KSTU) – A Utah elementary school student inspired her school to revamp its library.

While Emi Kim just hoped to spread a diverse and positive message in her own school, it brought about change throughout the district.

It all started when Emi became interested in books that showed characters who looked like her.

The 9-year-old is Hawaiian, Polynesian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

“Humans – we’re afraid of what we don’t know,” Emi explained. “I think that’s part of the reason why we treat people badly based on their looks or their culture, or the things they learn about their culture.”

Wanting to help people understand her cultural background, Emi broached the subject with her school.

“She had a PowerPoint and told me about how Caucasian characters and animals were most represented in the books, and how she really wanted to do something about it,” said Kim Hawkins, principal of Westridge Elementary in Provo, Utah.

Emi, her mother, and aunt came up with a plan to bring more diverse books to the library, but Emi knew bringing the collection would cost money. To offset the costs, Emi launched a lemonade and baked goods stand.

She was selling butter mochi, cupcakes, cookies and lemonade. Not only did Emi earn enough money to buy 15 books for her school, but she also had enough to buy an additional 60 books for four other schools in the district.

After seeing Emi’s passion and drive, Provo School District took Emi’s plan a step further.

“Our district kind of took the step that Emi started, and they bought the books for all the elementary schools,” said Hawkins. “So all of our elementary schools now have these amazing books, thanks to Emi.”

The collection of books that Emi encouraged the district to buy is now called “Emi’s Books”.

Emi hopes this will help students learn things they never knew before while making sure others like her see themselves reflected in the characters.

“I hope all children are inspired to be able to make positive changes,” she said.

This story was first reported by Lauren Steinbrecher on Fox13Now.com.

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