Children reading a picture book

Empowering Change Through Children’s Picture Books

Since 2018, the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development (OCD) has organized an annual “Books for Change” book drive to instill in children the principles of social justice through the captivating medium of picture books. 

“The Books for Change initiative recognizes that the lessons learned from these picture books go beyond mere words on pages,” says OCD Director Shannon Wanless. “By presenting diverse characters, experiences, and perspectives, these stories become mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors, allowing children to see themselves, explore different worlds, and step into the shoes of others.” 

This year’s book drive launched on November 28 and runs through  January 2024. In past years, OCD has curated a list of thoughtfully selected picture books for the book drive. However, this campaign is spotlighting a single picture book, “A Day With No Words” by Tiffany Hammond. The book delves into the intricacies of racial and disability identities, weaving a tale that resonates with the experiences of a young boy and his mom.

Picture books like this can become a conduit for conversations that spark curiosity, critical thinking, and, most importantly, a passion for justice, Wanless says.

The book drive accepts both book purchases and monetary donations. For those inclined to buy books, purchases can be made through a partnership with the independently owned City of Asylum Bookstore in Pittsburgh. Monetary donations can be made through the donate link on the Books for Change website.

After the book drive ends, donated books will be delivered to schools, childcare centers, in-home childcare, families, and home visitors throughout the Pittsburgh region. OCD also provides instruction to early childcare professionals and caregivers on how to effectively use the donated books to have meaningful conversations with children. 

Since the initiative began, Books for Change has collected nearly 5,000 books. Wanless is excited to continue growing the book drive’s impact and helping more children and their families learn about social justice.

“It’s about shaping the future by nurturing the hearts and minds of our children,” Wanless says.

How to Donate

To support the Books for Change book drive by donating books or money, visit the OCD website.