“I was actually super grateful for one of their parents, because they donated $100,” said Burns. “It was a really big donation.”
She has also researched authors, vetted reading materials and reached out to knowledgeable adults for recommendations. Her favorite book is Jelani Memory’s “A Kid’s Book about Racism.” She said she plans to buy several copies of it.
Burns said she was inspired to do the book-sharing initiative while watching the TV news about two months ago.
“They said lots of children – even in wealthy neighborhoods – don’t have books or don’t have access to books,” said Burns. “So, I thought this was one little way I could help with that.”
The project is anything but little, contributing to manifold social causes that extend beyond increasing accessibility to reading materials. The books Burns has earmarked are age-appropriate educational tools that help children understand the damaging effects promoted through racist ideologies, as well as the merits of antiracism.
“I have been amazed at the thinking, the reasoning behind it,” said her mother Charisse Burns. “She really feels deeply about a lot of things and she loves to try to make the world a better place.”
She is also conscious of where to purchase, choosing to patronize independent shops including AfriWare Books and the Book Table in Oak Park.
Burns plans to deposit multiple books across “20 to 50” Little Free Library locations in Oak Park, including the one outside William Hatch School, 1000 N. Ridgeland Ave., where she attends fourth grade. So far, she has purchased about 25 books.
Burns’s graphic design tutor, Oak Parker Tree Havener, helped her create flyers to spread awareness of her antiracism literature campaign.
“We’re just going to be putting them around the community, but I’m going to get permission from [Oak Park village] hall because you can’t post lots of stuff around the community without asking,” she told Wednesday Journal.
Despite all her big ideas and her tender age, Burns handles her philanthropic ventures with the acumen and gumption of someone more than twice her years. Her parents credit her teachers as well as the community for supporting and encouraging Burns, who last year organized a school-wide fundraiser to help immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We’re very proud of her that she’s thinking of other people,” said her father David Burns. “And that she’s not afraid to do something.”