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It’s no secret. Literacy statistics between students of color and white students are polarizing. And that disheartening truth isn’t just in America, it’s worldwide. 

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Wayetu Moore (center) is no stranger to that struggle. The Liberian-American publisher was once a student at Howard University, teaching fifth graders in the urban Anacostia area in Washington D.C. how to read. The task was daunting. The results of undertaking such an important job, discouraging. But Moore wasn’t ready to give up.

“I realized that students responded more to characters that looked like them,” the 27-year-old said.

That’s when she created the boutique publishing firm One Moore Book to provide culturally relevant content to underrepresented communities and countries.

But how do culturally relevant books help children in other countries with low literacy rates read?

“It’s because they take ownership of the literature. Anything that can be written down, that’s what the authority is and that’s all part of your academic experience. You’re seeing these images that represent academia (that aren’t culturally specific to the reader) but then all of a sudden they see these characters [in One Moore Books series] and they want to write about a similar story. They see their mom or they see their father…”

In 2011, Moore introduced seven books in a Liberia series with the help of her siblings, who are illustrators and artists. This year, Moore is introducing six books for Haiti in an effort to remind us that the recovery in Haiti is still ongoing and to hopefully provide the children in Haiti, who were most affected by the earthquake in 2010, with a sense of pride in their culture.

“Haiti has such a rich cultural heritage,” Moore said. “I always knew I wanted to do something for the country creatively.”

Among the authors in the six-book series is Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, who wrote the book The Last Mapou.

Other books in the series include A is for Ayiti  by Ibi Zoboi with illustrations by Joseph Zoboi, which is also available in Kreyol, and Fabiola Konn Konte {Fabiola Can Count} by Katia D. Ulysse with illustrations by Kula Moore.

To launch the series, One Moore Book hosted an art event in New York City; every ticket sold was able to provide one book for a child in Haiti through the nonprofit LitWork and a portion of the proceeds went to The Haiti Culture Exchange. In all, 93 books were sent to the country.

Moore plans on introducing a Spanish-speaking country in the series and she hopes to do a collection for the U.S. as well.

To support literacy, Haiti or to purchase the books, please visit OneMooreBook.com.

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