Shared from the 9/30/2020 Columbus Parent eEdition

Julia Hanna

Her daughter inspired her to help diversify school libraries.


Find an extended version of our Q&A, with more of Hanna’s insights and book picks, at

In early June, Upper Arlington resident Julia Hanna learned how fast social media can spring into action for a good cause.

Compelled to do something following the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality, Hanna turned to Facebook to achieve her goal of providing 1,000 diversity- and inclusion-focused books to area schools. In just five days, $6,000 and scores of books were donated.

The response inspired the formation of the nonprofit Harper’s Corner Foundation Inc., through which Hanna and co-founder Kat DePizzo have so far provided books to schools in Bexley, Gahanna and Worthington, based on a reading list developed with Upper Arlington’s Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers.

Harper’s Corner takes its name from Hanna’s 5-year-old biracial daughter, in the hope that she and other children from diverse backgrounds will feel represented at school.

Have you and Harper ever had to confront racism? The answer is yes, if I were to be honest. She and I look very different. I’m fair skin, blonde hair. She’s got beautiful tight curly brown hair and dark skin. A lot of curiosity stems from the fact that we just look very different, so people in the grocery store [ask], “Oh, when did you adopt her?” And my child is right there with me and she can hear what they’re saying. That’s not necessarily racism. First, it’s being really awkward and rude in person, but it’s also not being aware that diversity can look different.

How can a book make a difference in promoting diversity? If you are in the minority, so to speak, it allows you to feel accepted and seen as a person and recognize that not everyone looks the same.

On the flip side, in communities that lack a lot of diversity … it allows them to see that there is a bigger world out there, that families might look different, that people look different. It starts to create a conversation for young minds.

It sounds like there are many diverse books for young readers, but they aren’t necessarily getting to school library shelves. I know it’s been an eye-opening experience for [educators] that their books weren’t as diverse as they thought they were—that they were lacking, specifically in the LGBTQ community.

Buying books is a challenge for even the most affluent districts. Especially in elementary school, most of the books are hardcovers, which are obviously more expensive. Even with the amazing discount that Cover to Cover is giving us, the cost of books is over $10 a book.

See this article in the e-Edition Here