• Charlotte author connects kids to culture

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    When author Leah Rapley was completing a research project in Cochabamba, Bolivia, there was a lack of data available on her topic of choice: Afro-Bolivians.

     “As I started doing research, there wasn’t enough information on Afro-Bolivians. They weren’t recognized as an ethic group in the community,” Rapley said.

    The lack of information prompted her to raise awareness about the Afro-Bolivian culture through a children's book. 

    "Until the Mirror Smiled Back at Me" is about a young girl who sees pride and beauty in her heritage as an Afro-Bolivian princess, despite the adversities that her culture faces. Rapley hopes the book empowers young readers of all ethnic backgrounds to value their culture.

    “Reading opens up a world of desire to be curious and explore,” Rapley said.

    Rapley, a site coordinator at Communities in Schools of Mecklenburg County, connects students and families with community resources that assist with the student’s academic and nonacademic needs.

    “We have to consider the barriers to a student’s education that we can address,” Rapley said.

    One of those barriers is access to books. “Simply providing access is allowing kids to have the opportunity to read,” Rapley said.

    From March 11 to April 12, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Channel 9 asks the community to donate new or gently used books for children and teens at all Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations. Additionally, three 9 Family Focus community business partners have chosen to collect books at their Mecklenburg county locations: Showmars, Ashley HomeStore and E.R. Plumbing Services.

    You can find your nearest donation location by clicking on this link: 9 Books for Kids.

    All donated books will be distributed by the library to area children and teens through Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Outreach Services without the need to check out and return the book. Find  more information by clicking this link.

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