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INDIANAPOLIS — Their focus is to teach children about race and racism, which is why Stand for Children Indiana and local minority authors have teamed up to create a summer reading campaign.

Through the campaign, parents can take a pledge to read at least 20 minutes a day, and receive a free book to help educate and spark a conversation about social and racial justice with their children.

“Be that vessel to make sure that our babies have a space to be able to vent,” said Ashley Thomas, Regional Organizing Director for Stand. “It’s gotta be us (parents), we are their first and most important teacher.”

Thomas says this campaign will help parents create spaces at home where children can vent and talk about how they’re feeling about topics like coronavirus, the murder of George Floyd, and other critical topics.

She said a lot of parents, including herself, are hurt by a lot of things that are happening, and children are hurt too. She said children see and feel what’s happening in the world.

“The best thing we can do to protect our children is being able to control how they are exposed to it, by making sure that they have access to those stories in a constructive space.”

Thomas said she picked many of the books in the campaign with help from Indy Reads.

A few of the books are Brandon Warren’s “B Inspired,” which is his story of how he joined the movement for racial justice after he lost his best friend to gun violence, and India Kelvonia’s “Marisol’s Hair,” a story of a girl who had magical curls and used her hair as empowerment.

“Our young people need to hear more of these stories, and they don’t have to feel defeated, and they don’t have to feel powerless,” said Thomas. “The power is in their voice, and both of those stories tell the story.”

Thomas says parents have to learn from these experiences, so children can feel empowered and be a positive change in our community.

“There’s a learning space in everything.”

Thomas says it isn’t just about reading 20 to 30 minutes a day, but also having an active discussion and giving children an outlet to talk about race, their heritage, and feelings they might have towards what they’re seeing in the world.

To take the reading pledge, or learn more about the Stand for Children Indiana summer reading campaign you can visit Stand’s website.