PROVO, Utah – A Provo elementary school student inspired her school to redesign her library and bring in books that have never been found on shelves before.
While Emi Kim hoped to simply spread a diverse, positive message at her own school, it has changed the entire district.
In a school library, children can learn everything they never knew before.
You will be introduced to new characters and will follow the journeys and experiences of these characters.
Emi, a fourth grade student at Westridge Elementary School, admired beautiful pictures in a book called We Are Water Conservationists on Thursday afternoon.
“I really like the illustrations in this book,” she said, turning the page.
Emi loves this particular collection that is on display at one of the library entrances.
“That’s another favorite,” she said, picking up the book The Name Jar. “I have a lot of favorites. This film is about a little girl who is traveling from Korea to America.”
Each story focuses on a subject that Emi learned the hard way in her real life.
The 9 year old is Hawaiian, Polynesian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.
“I discovered the problem of not being treated the same way based on just how you look,” she said.
Emi told the story of a man who ignored Emi and her mother in a grocery store and pretended not to hear her mother when her mother spoke.
She began to understand human nature better.
“People – we are afraid of what we don’t know,” said Emi. “I think that’s partly why we treat people badly because of their looks, or their culture, or the things they learn about their culture.”
To help people understand their cultural background, Emi brought the topic up at her school.
“She had a Powerpoint and spoke to me about how Caucasian characters and animals are the most common characters in books and that she really wanted to do something about it,” said Kim Hawkins, headmistress and Westridge Elementary.
Emi, her mother, and aunt had a plan to bring more different books to the library, but Emi knew that bringing the collection would cost money. To offset the costs, Emi launched a lemonade and baked goods stand.
She sold butter mochi, cupcakes, cookies, and lemonade. Not only did Emi make enough money to buy 15 books for her school, she made so much that she bought 60 more books for four other schools in the district.
After seeing the passion and drive of this fourth grader, the Provo School District took Emi’s plan a step further.
“Our district has now made the leap that Emi started and they bought the books for all of the elementary schools,” said Hawkins. “So all of our elementary schools now have these incredible books because of Emi.”
She said they plan to use the books for the school district’s Diversity Week in November.
The book collection is called “Emi’s books”.
Emi hopes it will help students learn things they have never known while also ensuring that others like her reflect their own selves in the characters.
“I hope all children are inspired to make positive changes,” she said.
Emi is planning a second fundraiser at a lemonade stand to buy books on children of all abilities.
This lemonade and baking stand will be set up on September 25th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of Westridge Elementary School in Provo.