Cincinnati Mother Shares Love of Reading with Black Literature Book Drives

Arin Gentry in her office at UC. (Lucy May | WCPO)

Arin Gentry has loved reading since she was a little kid.

But it wasn’t until she was an adult that she realized what was missing from the books she read when she was little: Positive stories about Black people written by Black authors.

“I really can’t tell you many books that I read when I was coming up that were written by Black authors,” said Gentry, 26, an academic adviser at the University of Cincinnati. “The stories that we would read would be about civil rights or slavery. And that’s important to know. But it also gets, ‘OK – I get it,’ you know?”

So in the summer of 2020, when Gentry was pregnant with her son, she started a Black literature book drive.

“The goal was to make sure that young people who look like me – but also young people who don’t look like me – are able to have access to books that represent Black people in a positive manner,” she said. “Being able to provide that for young people, it means a lot to me.”

Gentry put out the call on social media, asking for donations of new books or money to purchase new books. She ended up with 1,000 books to donate to kids in the community and said she knew she had to keep it going. Her second book drive early this year was twice as successful.

“All together, about 3,000 books I’ve donated,” she said. “And again, all of these books are brand new books written by Black authors that share Black stories in a positive manner.”

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