These kids aren't dumb. They know exactly what's happening, and what's not. They know that when it comes to schooling, black lives don't matter and they never have.

  For years, I tried desperately to cultivate in my kids a love of reading. I'd amassed a modest classroom library of books I'd accumulated from secondhand shops, thrift stores, attics -- you know. But whenever I said those dreadful words, "Take out a book and read," you'd think I'd just declared war. It was torture.One day, after I'd heard about this website called DonorsChoose, where classroom teachers create wish lists of items they need for their classroom and anonymous donors fulfill them, I figured I'd go out on a limb and just make a wish list of the teenager's dream library. Over 200 brand-new books were sent to my room piece by piece. Every day there were new deliveries and my kids would exclaim with glee, "This feels like Christmas!"


  Then they'd say, "Ms. Sumner, where did these books come from?"

  And then I'd reply, "Strangers from all over the country wanted you to have these."

  And then they'd say, almost suspiciously, "But they're brand-new."


  To which I'd reply, "You deserve brand-new books."

  The whole experience hit home for me when one of my girls, as she peeled open a crisp paperback said,"Ms. Sumner -- you know, I figured you bought these books, 'cause you teachers are always buying us stuff. But to know that a stranger, someone I don't even know, cares this much about me is pretty cool."

  Knowing that strangers will take care of you is a privilege my kids aren't afforded.