Brooklyn woman aims to diversify borough’s bookshelves with book swap meetups

A Brooklyn resident created a community-based book swap aimed to diversify bookshelves across the borough.
Trae Higgs has always been a bookworm, but she didn't often see books that featured someone like her.
Research shows there's still little representation for LGBTQ readers and writers, especially as many books are being banned from schools and yanked from libraries.
In 2020, the publishing industry saw a surge of interest in diverse books and stories. Higgs took the opportunity to start a book swap in which she hosts meet-ups in Brooklyn where people trade books with each other.
"The books must be written by a person of color or someone from another marginalized identity — exposing readers to authors they might not have heard of," she said. "If you are someone who likes stories and likes reading and likes books, and if you're not intentionally diversifying your bookshelves, you're really doing yourself a disservice."
Nonprofit Pen America reported that almost half of the books on banned lists across the country last year include queer characters or LGBTQ issues.
Higgs says this is dangerous and adds, "There are so many queer kids and youth that need to be inspired and empowered by these books…I wish I had some of them when I was younger too."
Decades of research indicate that representation in media makes kids more tolerant and builds their self-esteem. By hosting the swaps, Higgs is doing her part one page at a time.