The idea for W.H.O. Books was born out of a family conversation and a desire to act.
After the murder of George Floyd, Beth Fogarty and her husband were discussing what they could do differently, recognizing that they personally had a lot to learn.
These titles are a selection of books shared by W.H.O Books:
“Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love
“The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family” by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali Art by Hatem Aly
“The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi
“Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins” by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich Illustrated by Jade Johnson
“Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO” by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli Pictures by Federico Fabiani
“We Are Water Protectors” by Carole Lindstrom, Michaela Goade (Illustrator)
“Rainbow Weaver” by Linda Elovitz Marshall (Author) Elisa Chavarri (Illustrator)
“Sometimes People March” by Tessa Allen
“Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice” by Ann Hazzard, Marianne Celano, and Marietta Collins
“Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña Pictures by Christian Robinson
“From the Desk of Zoe Washington” by Janae Marks
“When Aidan Became a Brother” by Kyle Lukoff
“One Crazy Summer” by Rita Williams-Garcia
“As Brave As You” by Jason Reynolds
“Firekeeper's Daughter” by Angeline Boulley
“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March” by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley; Illustrated by PJ Loughran
“It was definitely an eye-opening time for many people,” she said.
The two had an open conversation with their children about the issues and what was going on in the world. Books have always been big in the Fogarty family, especially children’s books. Fogarty and her children used to bring books to Little Free Libraries every summer.
“That was always our summer thing because we always had a plethora of books,” she said. “So we thought we could do something with that.”
That’s how W.H.O. books began. Named after the three Fogarty kids at the time -- they now four -- the project delivers diverse and inclusive books to Little Free Libraries.
“Who should we know, who should we see, who should we learn more about and who should we honor,” drives the focus of the group, Fogarty said.
W.H.O. Books was one of two winners of the Hudson Community Foundation’s SPARK Grant this year. The project received a $5,000 grant.
“It was building on something we already have in the community with Little Free Libraries and increasing awareness and acceptance of all of our community,” said Marketing Committee Chair Tracy Habisch-Ahlin.
Receiving the SPARK grant has meant everything, Fogarty said.
“It’s meant that we have people that are for our same purpose in this community, and that was a huge recognition that we’re doing something good and that people are on board,” she said.
The grant means the project can provide even more books to the community and coordinate more events.
The first goal of W.H.O. Books was to deliver books to the Hudson community, making a goal of delivering 250 books to about 50 Little Free Libraries in the community.
“It kind of spread from there,” Fogarty said.
W.H.O. then teamed up Project 30.1, an art project designed as a reminder of the work the community still has to do to address racism and inclusion. Fogarty held “Little Freezing Libraries” at the mural site, and brought books to George Floyd Square.
The goal of the project is to bring more representation to families and kids in the community.
“Hopefully a child would see themselves, or an adult and anyone or any age, would see themselves in a book that they may have not connected with before,” Fogarty said.
The books highlight diverse topics as well as BIPOC and LGBTQ-plus authors and illustrators.
“I’m hoping that it just helps with that representation. Like somebody says, ‘Oh I might connect with this character,’ or ‘This is amazing that this person can write this story,’” she said.
It’s important to open eyes to the truths of other people’s experiences, Fogarty said.
Those interested in learning more or supporting W.H.O. books can visit whobooks.org.