The City of Las Vegas has partnered with JetBlue's "Soar with Reading" program to install vending machines in community centers across the city that provide free books to children. Some of the books in the program, however, appear to promote gender and racial ideologies.
The program, which was launched in 2011, has book-vending machines in Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Michigan; Fort Lauderdale, Florida, New York City, New York; San Francisco, California; and Newark, New Jersey.
JetBlue describes the program as an initiative that "captures kids’ imaginations through reading" and "provides brand new books to children with limited access to book ownership."
Upon review of the program's book list, some of the literature promotes controversial ideologies. For example, "The Pronoun Book" is recommended for ages 0-3. The book is described as "illustrations of a diverse cast of people and simple text that introduces their pronouns, perfect for readers both young and old."
An editorial review on Barnes & Noble's website also listed the book as enforcing "the message that gender identity and pronouns cannot be derived from appearance."
A book called "Black Boy Joy," recommended for ages 10-14, is written by 17 "acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors" and speaks about "the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood." A review from Publisher's Weekly on Amazon said the book discusses "subjects such as friendships, gender identity, and family" and is an "exuberant celebration of carefree Black experiences."
"Sharing a Smile," a book recommended for 6-year-olds, uses cover art depicting a granddaughter and her grandfather wearing masks. The book "tells the story of a young girl named Sophie who makes and shares cloth masks with people in her neighborhood," said one review on GoodReads.
Other books used in the program include failed Georgian Democratic candidate Stacey Abram's "Stacey's Extraordinary Words," a book celebrating Michelle Obama's accomplishments, and even musician Lil Nas X's "C is for Country" book.
City officials said the books will be available for children up to 14 years old through August 6, 2023, while supplies last, according to KTNV Las Vegas.
JetBlue did not respond to request for comment. The City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas mayor's office did not immediately respond to inquiries. This publication will be updated should they provide a response.
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