Human libraries challenge stereotypes

Schools & Students

“Human books” have been sharing their knowledge with students at two Vancouver secondary schools.

The Human Library project challenges stereotypes by bringing people together to share their stories, giving people a chance to learn about others, ask questions, gain understanding and strengthen social connections.

At John Oliver Secondary, the library featured 30 “human books” who were experts in the fields of math and science. They talked to almost 200 Grade 9 students about their passions, education and life’s work. The students could learn about a typical day in the life of a scientist or mathematician and explore what drew them to the field.

The “human books” included UBC neurobiologist Lara Boyd, former UN science affairs officer Stanley Greenspoon, engineer Siobhan Robinson and geologist Paul Chung.

Senior students who took part in a Human Library at Gladstone Secondary were able to learn about a variety of subjects, such as what is it like to live with multiple sclerosis, to work in social justice and to get through a drug or alcohol addiction.

Retired teacher Patricia Parungoa, who arranged the Gladstone event, said: "I think it's valuable for students to hear stories from people they usually don't get a chance to talk to.”

Gladstone Human Library