Rooted MKE’s New Lit Kits Celebrate Literacy and BIPOC Voices

The local bookstore launched the book subscription boxes this month as part of National Literacy Month.

Rooted MKE, a local BIPOC children’s bookstore and literacy center, is participating in National Literary Month with their new subscription boxes, “Lit Kits,” that aim to celebrate Black, brown and Indigenous writers and illustrators. 

“Our subscription box is essentially an opportunity to have books that represent diverse characters delivered to your door, ones either written or illustrated by a creator of color,” says Ashley Valentine, owner of Rooted MKE.

Not only is this subscription introducing a diverse array of books into households, but it also is offering a unique literary experience. Each box ($75-$100 per month) comes with three books, one set of comprehension cards and a book related accessory. 

“The box encourages each young reader to form a successful comprehension strategy and a good literacy foundation that they may or may not be receiving in a school environment,” Valentine says.

For National Literacy Month this September, Rooted MKE has a goal of enrolling 80 kids across the country in the Lit Kits. 

“I think we all know how valuable literacy is to young people and adults alike. We want to make sure we are celebrating this. Not many people even know it is National Literary Month, so this is the way we are bringing awareness to the cause,” Valentine says.

The box is available to four different age groups, ranging from newborn to early teenage years, each with unique names and themes: “Well-Read Lit Kit” (10-12 year olds), “Genius in Training” (7-9 year olds), “Busy Explorer” (4-6 year olds) and “Curious Littles” (0-3 year olds). Valentine stresses the benefits of exposing children to diverse narratives at a young age. 

“The danger of not introducing a diverse range of characters is the fear a child will formulate ideas of who is supposed to be in a book and who is not,” Valentine says.

That’s why Valentine is very intentional when putting together each box. 

“There is not going to be a book in the collection that we have not thought deeply about,” she says. “Not all are new releases. Many are books I fell in love with as a young girl. We look at data from national publishers. We also consider local authors. How can we uplift those who are writing children’s literature in our own city?”  

Rooted MKE is also offering an in-person book club twice a month for subscribers, as well as virtual meetings for those not located in the Milwaukee area or families that may have a hectic schedule. 

“We have been trying to expand our reach of people outside of those who can physically reach the store. We want to meet people where they are and bring these wide range of titles to them,” Valentine says. 

She says that she hopes this service can influence each reader, young or old, in a powerful way. 

“I hope our box commemorates what an important time it is in these children lives.” Valentine says. “Our objective is to spread BIPOC stories, not only to Milwaukee children, but as far as our reach can go.”