Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School Teacher Heather McCarthy was looking for a way to diversify her classroom book selection to better teach diversity, acceptance, tolerance, and respect. So she came up with the program “Let’s Talk About It” a virtual book talk where students can pick a book and submit a talk on it through her YouTube page.
“I chose the area of diverse books because I believe it is important for everyone to be able to see themselves reflected in the books they read and also to be exposed to people from all walks of life by reading their stories. Through the use of these novels and picture books, we will open the lines of communication around the tough topics like gender equality, LGBTQ rights, bullying, discrimination and racism. By opening the lines of communication about these topics we will be able to begin working towards a more inclusive nation. We will address issues facing our children and our nation and start looking for solutions. The first step is talking about these issues, and books are a great vehicle for getting to our solutions,” said McCarthy.
To fund the project McCarthy applied for the Voya Financial Unsung Heroes Grant and won a $2,000 grant for the project. Voya has awarded over $5 million in grants in the past two decades, to help over 2000 educators bring their innovative teaching ideas to life. Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to K-12 educators nationwide to honor their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and their ability to positively influence the children they teach.