Brightly-colored “little libraries” splashed with Dallas Mavericks blue are being installed across North Texas to encourage more children to read. Each box is hand-decorated by children, community leaders and volunteers on a mission to spread kindness and hope to the region.
The Dallas Mavericks and Mavs Take ACTION! recently hosted the latest session of The HUDDLE with the theme “Never Too Young to Change the World,” focusing on youth activism, volunteerism and the importance of uplifting the future generation of leaders.
“Our huddles are geared toward having difficult conversations with a community that really matters, and we really want to shed light on them,” said Kamri Brown with the Dallas Mavs. “We hope to inspire and encourage the kids here that they don’t have to be grownups to make an impact. They can be themselves; they can make an impact today.”
Special guest 12-year-old Orion Jean, TIME’s 2021 Kid of the Year, led a service project with students at Frazier Revitalization Center, decorating “Little Libraries” to be installed around North Texas to increase access to books, encourage reading and connect communities. He aims to share his love of literacy with many people, especially young kids.
The little libraries are free book-sharing boxes where anyone may take one or share a book. They function on the honor system and are critical in under-resourced communities where access to books might be more challenging. The ‘libraries’ also create community and connection for children and adults alike.
“I believe that young people can truly make a difference,” said Jean, founder of Race to Kindness. “We are the ‘now,’ and we are leading the charge as to all the problems we see in the world today. We have the most fire; we have the most passion. And every kid has the power to make a difference if they truly believe in themselves and the passion for the cause they are trying to achieve.”
Jean, a native of Fort Worth, is already a humanitarian who is changing the world. He’s worked with notable leaders all across the globe. He sees himself as an ambassador of kindness and is spearheading an effort to get 500,000 books to kids with none at home.
“I’m here to spread books across the community as part of my race to 500,000 books initiative, and I’m just so excited to be here in partnership with the Dallas Mavericks,” Jean added.
Jelani Bracey is a Black father, philanthropist, author and the CEO of an organization called Black2Life. The organization aims to empower black men to strengthen underserved communities through education and inspiration. Through his nonprofit, he can offer more access to reading and literacy by providing free books to kids worldwide. He joined the Dallas Mavericks as a special guest for the event.
“Most underserved neighborhoods have low literacy rates, and a part of that is low access,” said Bracey, author of A Daddy is Born. “So, we want to provide them access by providing free books.”
Bracey’s book was written in 2019 and was inspired by his then-five-year-old son JJ and the story details the pride, love, joy and aspirations a father has for his child and the dedication it takes to be an awesome dad. The book became a launching pad for Bracey to write a sequel, A Daddy is Born: Princess Edition, to honor his newborn daughter, Jade.
All the leaders who participated in the latest HUDDLE session share a great love of reading and an even greater passion to spread kindness and love to people across the community. Many of the new “little libraries” that are being installed across Dallas were handpainted by children who are creating a new lasting legacy in their neighborhoods.
Sais Daniel is the Director of Community Services with Bridge Builders. She said the partnership with the Mavs is essential to the people her organization serves.
“It means a lot for the Dallas Mavericks to come in and partner with us and install this library,” Daniel said. “It means that people are starting to see that this area needs other resources. Knowing that the Dallas Mavericks are a part of reinventing what’s important is ideal for our community.”
The HUDDLE is a courageous conversation series in the Mavs Take ACTION! plan launched in 2020 to address racial inequities and promote social justice in the North Texas community. It is a gathering that creates a safe space for dialogue and the opportunity for individuals to learn and unite with a diverse group of current and former Dallas Mavericks players, team representatives and community figures to eliminate racial divides, uplift communities, and empower future generations.
The program will celebrate its third anniversary in June.
To watch the latest HUDDLE session, click here.
Previous HUDDLE conversations have centered around gun violence prevention, mental health, social justice, LGBTQ/trans community visibility, voting rights, educational equity, homelessness and hunger, helping Dallas rebound during the pandemic, women in sports, closing the wealth gap and a conversation with President George W. Bush and Dirk Nowitzki about portraits of America’s immigrants. To read more about the Mavs, Take ACTION! plan, visit Mavs.com/MTA.
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