How one Marlboro kid is using books to fight inequality

In between playing with her friend on the swing and riding her bike, 8-year-old Madison Franklin took on a new hobby after witnessing what happened to George Floyd.

“I don’t want kids to grow up being mean to different skin colors, everything like that, so I want to explain to kids that it’s OK,” she said.

Franklin thought children’s books were the perfect way to start a conversation. With libraries closed due to the pandemic, she made a diversity library.

She’s collected more than 200 books so far that highlight different races, ethnicities and abilities.

“We’re all unique in our own ways. It doesn’t matter skin color or anything,” Franklin said.

Her favorite at the moment is a book called “Mixed: A Colorful Story” by Aree Chung that highlights unity.

“‘Mixed’ was about two colors that combined and they had a baby that was the color. Let’s say red and blue, they made purple. So that color was named purple. And it was a great book. It was so much fun,” she said.

The energetic third-grader says she’s created a simple system. After readers browse her catalogue of books online and pick one out, she drops it off in her family’s mailbox for pickup.

She calls it Madison’s Magical Library. And, as she puts it, kids sometimes know more than adults.

“Adults should be better role models, so maybe adults should know a little more than kids and be a better role model to their kids. Like I don’t really hear a lot of people telling their kids about diversity,” Franklin said.

Her friend Ava Appolonia agrees.

“We should all be nice to each other. Just because we’re different doesn’t mean we can’t be nice,” she said.

So maybe it’s a matter of stepping back to our childhood and remembering how we viewed the world to make us all treat people better.

Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multiplatform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by the JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.