Books Like Me supported Title I schools in Hillsborough County with diverse books.

By Keiko Moral

In an inspiring effort to promote inclusivity and representation in children’s literature, the organization Books Like Me is making waves in classrooms with over 12,000 books donated. Founded by Haili and Brooke Smith, former students in the Hillsborough County School District, Books Like Me is dedicated to ensuring that every child can find themselves in the pages of the books they read.

Books Like Me was born from a profound family discussion about the pressing issues of race and inequality in our country. Haili and Brooke recognized the transformative power of literature and saw an opportunity to create positive change.

“Haili and Brooke are also very good about reading the books and identifying those which they feel like are interesting, uplifting and empowering, as well as finding those books which they feel like kids can relate to,” said Crystal Campbell, executive director of Books Like Me.

The organization started its mission by collecting diverse children’s book donations from family, friends and compassionate individuals who shared its vision. What’s more, Books Like Me goes the extra mile in ensuring that the books it provides are not only centered on diverse main characters but also penned by authors who represent those characters’ backgrounds.

Haili and Brooke take their role as curators seriously. They immerse themselves in the books they receive, diligently identifying those that are reflective of children’s real-life challenges and aspirations. Their dedication to reading and reviewing each book ensures that the collection curated by Books Like Me is of the highest quality and represents a diverse array of cultures, backgrounds and life stories.

However, Books Like Me’s vision goes beyond encouraging children of color to read and feel represented. The organization believes that it is equally vital for all children, regardless of their backgrounds, to normalize diversity. By exposing young readers to a diverse range of characters and stories, Books Like Me seeks to break down stereotypes from all sides, promoting empathy, understanding and respect.

The impact of Books Like Me is already being felt in schools within the Hillsborough County School District and beyond. Working closely with educators and school administrators, Books Like Me has been able to place these diverse books into classrooms, enriching the learning experience for countless young minds.

To support Books Like Me’s mission or learn more about its impactful work, visit its website at

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