Student leaders from BSU, Zoey Comfort Dog, MCP, and Pre-Med Club

There's no doubt about it. Research unequivocally shows that reading when young paves the way to all kinds of success.

And there’s no better way to help a young learner fall into a good book than to provide a story and characters with whom he or she can relate.

This is just part of the reason why four Concordia student groups came together earlier this semester to collect “diverse books” to donate to two area schools: Zion Lutheran in Menomonee Falls and St. Peter Immanuel School in Milwaukee.

Concordia’s Black Student Union (BSU), Pre-Med Club, Comfort Dog Club, and Multiculture Interperspective Organization (MCIP) led the effort, and they received hundreds of donations over the course of the book drive. The groups posted a wish list of books on Amazon and invited Concordia supporters to purchase items from the list to be delivered to the schools. The list included a variety of age-appropriate works that were written by diverse authors, featured non-white protagonists, and/or provided rich explanations and celebrations of cultural heritages.

Altogether, the Concordia students collected more than 200 books.

CUW student Pearla Volkman said she was eager to join the effort on behalf of BSU. It was Volkman who suggested the two grade school recipients because of prior connections she had with them. In fact, she attended Zion Lutheran when she was young. She was one of only a dozen diverse students among the student body at the time.

“Growing up I didn’t have books like this to just help me feel acknowledged,” Volkman said. “These books are a useful tool in keeping kids on the right path. They provide an escape in some ways. It can be a healthy outlet for a lot of them.”

The books were delivered to the schools earlier this month.

“Reading is so important and useful for developing a greater understanding of the world,” said Emma Hartman, president of the Pre-Med Club. “Having diverse perspectives represented in books isn’t just helpful to marginalized students either. It can broaden all children’s perspectives, especially if they’re at a school where there isn’t a lot of diversity of thought, culture, or ethnicity represented.”

— Madelyne Arrigoni is a senior studying English, Mass Communications, and Photography. She plans to graduate in 2022.

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