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First-grader donates nearly 200 books to his school highlighting black history


David Donaldson knows a lot about Katherine Johnson, an African-American woman and mathematician who made major contributions to NASA. He’s read about her in the book “Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race.”

Now the first-grader is sharing that book and 198 more, most of which are tied to black history, with his Dutton Elementary School peers. David said he wanted to share the stories of people he has learned about at home with his mom, Kristina Donaldson, and wants to know more about African Americans who have made their marks in history.

“I wanted to learn more about it!” said the enthusiastic 6-year-old. “There is so much to learn.”

So, David and his mom created a video to kick off a book drive for Black History Month in February. “I want my school to learn about black history!” he proclaimed in the video.

Books about Jackie Robinson, Mae Jemison, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, and other African-American leaders started arriving the next day, and over a month David nearly doubled his goal of collecting 100 books. He surprised Principal Shawn Veitch by delivering the books in mid- March.

First-grader David Donaldson looks through the books he collected through his Black History Month book drive

African-American Culture and Contributions

Kristina Donaldson said she home-schools her children as an enhancement to their regular school day.

“I teach the kids about our culture and our history, and David is so intrigued and interested,” Donaldson said, adding he has loved learning about historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Dred Scott. David agreed: “I just like to learn,” he said.

“It’s important for my kids to be able to see books that represent their culture and share positive things from the African-American community, powerful things we as a people have contributed that are not always part of the core curriculum,” his mother added said.

Roxanne Hoeksema, Dutton Elementary media center specialist, said the books will have their own section in the school library. Some will go into classrooms and duplicates will be shared with other schools in the district.

First-grader David Donaldson collected 199 books, many tied to black history, to donate to his school by hosting a book drive

First-grade teacher Becky Wenger said David’s gift is very much appreciated.

“I think it’s a very selfless act. He’s thinking about others, not just himself,” Wenger said. “He is that kind of kid. He has a big heart and he is a good reader.”

Principal Shawn Veitch said he loves to see passionate students like David work to impact others.

“He invested his time to help make our school the best that it can be,” Veitch said. “This will be something that will last for generations and generations.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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