The ‘Little Free Anti-Racist Library’ continues to grow and evolve in Warren

When Monica Papasian explained the idea of installing a Little Free Library in their front yard, she told her children that it was like giving a gift to someone but to the whole community.

The Papasians installed their own Little Free Library, a national booksharing movement where organizations and individuals install small covered bookshelves in their yards, in May 2020. It’s something that Monica had wanted to do for a while. They even installed a solar-powered light to illuminate the little library at night.

“I wanted to do it to encourage my kids to read and share that with my community,” Monica says. She and husband Loren have Charlie, 10, and Olive, 6.

“I wasn’t a big reader but I want my kids to be. Knowledge is power.”

The Papasians’ library was like any other — at first. But as the months wore on and George Floyd-inspired demonstrations took place across the country, the direction of the Papasians’ little library became more purposeful.

The Papasians’ Little Free Anti-Racist Library for Equality & Inclusion in WarrenIt was September when their library would officially become The Papasians’ Little Free Anti-Racist Library for Equality & Inclusion.

“I just look at the innocence of my 6-year-old who cannot even fathom racism. For the kids, it’s a great time to reach them and educate them, to help them understand that these biases people have are something that’s learned over time,” Monica says.

The books are largely for children, although not all. They are books about the Black experience, like Who is Frederick Douglas? and Black Pioneers of Science and Innovation, among many others. There is no expectation for visitors to leave a book as they take one, only to return it if possible. The books have “library cards” for people to fill out.

Monica has also been stocking the library with informative bookmarks and sets of multi-cultural crayons. “One of the children visiting was excited because they said it was the first time they could make a family picture.”

The Papasians’ library continues to evolve and grow. Monica is working on stocking books for Women’s History Month and books that cover the LGBTQ community. She is hosting an online book-reading event in support of transgender and non-binary youth, which is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25. She’s considering installing similar libraries elsewhere. And she’s in the process of getting her 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to make it easier to find corporate support.

“When this started off, I didn’t really have a plan. And now there are all these opportunities to grow,” Monica says.

“My dream is drag queens reading books in the park for Pride month.”

The Papasians’ Little Free Anti-Racist Library for Equality & Inclusion is located at 6106 Chicago Rd. in Warren.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.