6th grade author helps launch Charlotte pop-up library

Jade Watkins, 11-year-old author of the book “I AM ME,” will help launch the first of two community pop-up libraries along the West Boulevard and Steele Creek corridors in Charlotte.

Watkins is the founder of Jade’s Traveling Backpack Mission that was established in 2012.

“What inspired me to write I AM ME is all the change that’s happening in the world on the news and on tv and sometimes people just get so caught up in all that and forget who they are as a person,” said Watkins. “So I wrote I AM ME to remember that I am me no matter what and don’t change that about myself just because I get caught up in something.”

The Thumbs Up Reading library initiative will give access to over 1,000 books to children and young adults.

“We are committed to efforts that both improve reading in low-income areas while also expanding access to high quality children and teen books,” said Pam White, with Thumbs Up Reading.

Established in memory of avid reader and life-long Charlotte resident Clyde Albert Phifer, the initiative hopes the books represent and empower children by recognizing the importance of diversity in children’s literature.

“Erecting pop-up libraries in historically Black and brown communities of Charlotte is critically important; now more than ever,” White said.

According to White, 8 in 10 children who identify as African American, indigenous Americans and Latinos are not reading at grade level in North Carolina.

The program wants to provide a variety of children and teen books that represent a wide range of identities.

“Our hope is that TUR will bring a little more joy, a little more community connection while helping raise the next generation of readers and leaders - one book at a time,” said White.

The installation of the first Thumbs Up Reading’s pop-up library is scheduled for Saturday, July 31, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Steele Creek A.M.E. Zion Church, 1500 Shopton Road, Charlotte.

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