COE Alumna Starts A Facebook Page With Over 7,000 Members to Encourage Inclusive Literature for Kids
By Rachel Renou, COE Grad Assistant | Published December 17, 2020
YPSILANTI - The year 2020 has brought a lot of challenges, and educators have had to find ways of coping with the many ups and downs. Especially during late spring, many Americans were frustrated and exhausted from the racial situation in the country. People worked hard to enlighten others on the unfair treatment of people of color still going on today and looked for ways to provide resources, speak up, and become better advocates for justice. Elizabeth Hatline, a 2008 EMU elementary education graduate and current first-grade teacher at Dewitt Public Schools, felt driven to do her part in using the movement to raise a generation of empathetic leaders.
On May 28th, 2020 Hatline started a Facebook group called “Raising Readers to Become Leaders” for parents, educators, and caregivers to create positive change in the world.
“On May 25, a man named George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis and outrage from his killing was felt across the country. I, too, was outraged. I started thinking very deeply about the Black Lives Matter movement and how I could possibly (as a teacher and a mom) help. I thought about my passions and what I am good at. Books and teaching our youngest learners immediately came to mind. I have known my entire life that books can change viewpoints, feelings and even lives. Books can show representation of all children and they are a wonderful tool for teaching tiny humans (and even big humans) how to be kind, inclusive and compassionate,” (Hatline)
Once the page was started, Hatline sought out people who loved books as much as she did and were eager to share their knowledge on topics that promoted kindness, diversity, and more. First, she invited a few hundred of her friends to join, but it didn’t take long for the page to gain traction. Members started inviting others to join and word of mouth was the main driver for growth. Within just five months the page had grown to over 7,000 members.
Elizabeth Hatline and Peter Sperry
Many of the members heard about the site from the EMU COE. COE faculty helped Hatline spread the word about the page by sharing it in the Eastern Michigan University Education Alumni Page on Facebook. Now, many educators with EMU degrees have access to a library of resource ideas that help them teach inclusion and empathy to students.
Hatline describes the “Raising Readers to Become Leaders” community as welcoming, encouraging, and accepting. Her audience has even reached an international level with members from a variety of countries. This range of members has allowed the group to expand on a variety of topics and include a plethora of valuable voices/perspectives.
“We welcome all types of diversity; this includes but is not limited to: cultural diversity, racial diversity, religious diversity, age diversity, sex/gender diversity, socioeconomic status, family structure, sexual orientation and disability,” (Hatline).
The open dialog environment Hatline and the members have created has reached beyond books. In fact, the page includes many forms of learning resource suggestions such as podcasts, websites, and more. Anyone in the group is welcome to post, comment, and give feedback. Once content is posted, it is categorized under 35 different topics. Of the 35 topics includes a “Meet the Author” topic where authors are featured and have the opportunity to talk more in depth about their books.
Nicole DeLaurence, Elizabeth Hatline and Andrea Izzo
“Raising Readers to Become Leaders” has grown so much that Hatline started an Instagram account as well that now attracts more members to the page. The popularity of the page has also led her to create member polls, giveaways, and sell merchandise. The profits from selling merchandise go toward charities that support the mission of the group.
Another reason Hatline felt compelled to ignite positive change as an educator was her inspiration from EMU faculty who also pursued worthy causes. While a student at EMU she had two professors who stood out to her and instilled in her a love of learning, children, and books.
“I will never forget Dr. Beaubien’s passion on women’s rights and Dr. Paciorek’s passion on children having control of their own learning. I received support from both professors when I started the group and they are both active members of the Facebook group. I am grateful for them both on this journey,” (Hatline).
Hatline’s overarching goal is for the Facebook page to help as many people around the globe realize the books they chose for their kids/and or students can have a positive impact and an everlasting effect. She looks forward to watching the page continue to grow and hopes it will remain “a supportive, loving, and welcoming community,” (Hatline). By finding her own worthy cause, to teach young minds inclusion and empathy, Hatline demonstrates how our educators have taken the events of 2020 and made them valuable lessons that will benefit the leaders of tomorrow.
To join or learn more about “Raising Readers to Become Leaders” follow these links:
About The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, The College of Education (COE) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) continues to be one of the largest producers of educational personnel in the nation. The COE includes a comprehensive variety of programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral program level. Non-degree and certifications are also offered through the COE as well. The COE includes departments for teacher education, special education, and leadership & counseling. All of the professional education programs offered by EMU’s COE are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and are also approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The graduates the EMU produces are highly desired in the field, due to the strong reputation the COE has earned throughout their many established years. The COE has been recognized for its strong success rate by U.S. News and World Report’s: America’s Best Colleges.