Unifying America: Arlington Native’s Diverse Library Project Reaches All 50 States

WBZ-TV's Paula Ebben reports.

Video Transcript

- Between racial tension and a polarizing election year, many people believe that our country is more divided than ever.

- But tonight we begin a new series telling the stories of those who are working to bring people together despite their differences. In our first piece, WBZ's Paula Ebben takes us to Arlington where a painful lesson from a four-year-old inspired a young woman to use books to try to help unify America.

SARAH KAMYA: These are actually two of my favorite books, Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO and Hair Love.

PAULA EBBEN: Sarah Kamya is on a mission to use stories--

SARAH KAMYA: This is a book I just featured about a mom and daughter who spend their Saturday together.

PAULA EBBEN: To give neighbors like four-year-old Leila [INAUDIBLE], who needed a boost from big sister Ella, a chance to experience--

- You want to get the Princess and the Pea?

PAULA EBBEN: Books about people who don't look like them.

SARAH KAMYA: There's so much to celebrate, there's so much that every different community and culture brings to the country.

PAULA EBBEN: The New York City school counselor started the first Little Free Diverse Library when she was back in Arlington during the Coronavirus lockdown.

SARAH KAMYA: There was just a lot of books that didn't have diverse characters.

PAULA EBBEN: She was also motivated by a conversation she had with a preschooler she cared for years ago.

SARAH KAMYA: One day in the car I was just like, why don't you like me? And she just said, because of your skin. And I had honestly never felt like that in my entire life.

PAULA EBBEN: Hoping books would help expose children and adults to different points of view, she started an Instagram page and asked for donations.

SARAH KAMYA: At the end of that week I had like, $6,000.

PAULA EBBEN: With more than enough books for her Arlington library, she started sending some to friends all over the country.

SARAH KAMYA: There is Little Free Diverse Virginia, Little Free Diverse Maryland, Little Free Diverse Utah.

PAULA EBBEN: Sarah now has books in all 50 states.

- I like the illustrations.

PAULA EBBEN: For Ella, the books are fun to read, but the importance of the message is not lost on this second grader.

- I think it's great to teach respect other cultures and things.

SARAH KAMYA: When we can celebrate our differences versus put down, we can really come together as one.

PAULA EBBEN: And Sarah also donated a Little Free Diverse Library to set up at Ellis Elementary School in Arlington. David and Lisa.

- Wow great story, Paula.

PAULA EBBEN: The more books, the better.