We cannot build this project, and indeed this movement, without you! Though we may never fully realize the impact of our stories on others' lives, we hope you'll consider making a difference by becoming a 'book' in our Human Library. Residents of the Fox Valley (IL) aged 18 and over who have experienced stigma and discrimination are welcome to apply, here.
Examples of book titles used in other Human Libraries include: Autistic, Homeless, Alcoholic, Gay, Black, Latino, PTSD, Muslim, Depression, Wheelchair User, Dyslexic, Immigrant, Vegetarian, Food Allergies, Atheist, Refugee, Transgender. What's the title of your book?
See a title on our list that's already been 'taken?' Don't let that stop you! Our books won't all be available for all of our events — and besides, 'his' story and 'her' story are not your story. Tell it.
If you decide you want to become a 'book,' please know that it is not required that you allow us to post your picture — here, or anywhere else. This is strictly optional. Your comfort and confidentiality are our first priorities!
Not sure you're ready to become a book, but interested in supporting the Human Library in some other way? Get involved, here!
Scroll down for more titles!
When people hear someone has autism, most of them think about “classic” autism: a child, generally a boy, who is nonverbal, exhibits repetitive movement (called stimming), and has an area of intense focus and fascination. I am a highly-articulate adult woman who only stims when she’s highly stressed, but I still have autism. That is why autism is said to be a spectrum. There is a spectrum of people who have it, and a spectrum of symptoms (of varying degrees) which fall under autism. Autism is part of who I am. It shapes how I see the world. I refuse to hide it, be ashamed of it, or let it hold me back from achieving my dreams. And if my voice can help the next person on the spectrum that you meet, I will gladly make it heard.
I was born 55 years ago in Rome, Italy and I am an Immigrant. I moved in the US about 18 years ago when I married my husband, a third generation American of Croatian descent. I am safe, nobody is going to deport me, or separate me from my family and the country I learned to love as much as the one I was born in. I am a “privileged immigrant." I didn’t leave Italy because of war, poverty, lack of opportunities, risks to my safety, none of that. I am an educated European and still, it wasn’t 'easy.'
I was born at the start of the Liberian Civil crisis and spent the first 14 years of my life moving from one location to another as a refugee. I lost my mother at the age of five because of the war; therefore, I only grew up with my dad. I completed high school and three years of college before immigrating to the US. Now I’m here trying to start a new life. At times I experience stigmatization because I am African and appear more like an African American, but I do not allow that to bring me down. I keep pushing to achieve my goals.
Most people go through life not worrying about their gender. A doctor assigns you as male or female when you are born and everyone accepts it, no questions asked. But what if that assigned gender is inaccurate? Being a transgender woman, I’ve spent the majority of my life being told I was a boy and tried my best to please those around me. Who knew it would almost kill me? Through the act of transitioning, I’ve become more authentic and I can finally say I am on the road to happiness. Now into adulthood, I live my life like any other woman. But with transgender being a new topic on people’s minds, I now need to navigate a new, yet familiar challenge. I experience prejudice and discrimination daily. Most people can avoid controversial topics in daily living, but what happens when you are the controversy?
Since the dawn of slavery interracial marriage has been seen as taboo, but in 2018, as slavery is now long gone, interracial marriages continue to be on the rise. Let me share my experiences with you and enlighten you with the truth about how love sees no colors and how in a world where society is against you can grow together and conquer all obstacles that get thrown your way.
Our other titles include:
Father of a Gay
Son of Immigrants
Wife of an Immigrant
Climate Justice Jailbird
Person of Color
Black woman in technology
I am always smiling, but for a large portion of my life the smile was just a mask to hide what I was battling on the inside. Since high school I have battled depression and anxiety. It is something I will likely battle for the rest of my life. For many years, I was terrified of anyone knowing what I was going through. There is a stigma surrounding mental health and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak, and didn’t want anyone’s pity. If you’d seen me, you’d have had no idea I was planning suicide, having frequent anxiety attacks, dropped out of school, and felt worthless. I came to realize, though, that there is hope, and that I have a future. I still struggle with the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but now, the smile you see is real!
As children, we likely all knew that one kid in class who was picked on the most — chosen last for team and had mean pranks played on them — who just never seemed to fit in. I was that kid. When I was younger my eyes shook from nystagmus more than they do now. I rode the little “freak school bus” to and from school. I was knocked down stairs, had nasty notes placed on my locker, and books were thrown from my hands as I tried to make it to class. Once, when I did walk home from school, the three biggest bullies trapped me, knocked me to the ground, called me all kinds of names, and laughed as I ran off to the relative safety of a 7-11. I loved learning, but school was scary.
After years of study and exposure to Christianity, Bible, and religion, it became impossible for me to accept any definition of God. So fairly late in life it was possible for me to be honest and admit that I did not believe in what others called God. But as a result of that honesty I was able to pursue a study of philosophies which better explained my viewpoint and found it best described as being a humanist. My internal code of ethics and morality and my commitment to making social structures on a local, national and international level more humane, fit what I learned of humanist thought. So although it may not be the norm in the communities where I have lived, it is truer to my world view. More importantly it has set my mind free from the struggle with the question of God so I can concentrate on my commitments to social justice and mitigating human suffering. But it does test how much others respect religious freedom.
Text coming soon!
Liberated Muslim Woman
I call myself "Born Again Muslim.” I was born in Pakistan but moved to Dubai as a 6 year old. Then I came to America with my family and have been an American a big part of my life. I was brought up as a Muslim, but like most children, practiced my rituals without really understanding them. When I became a mom is when it struck me...What am I going to teach him (my firstborn) when I myself don't know much? I enrolled in Islamic Studies classes and that's when my life changed, hence my intro, "Born Again Muslim." My new-found faith changed me as a human being. It made me whole, at peace, and a sincere person who loves one and all. My shock came when media started telling everyone how terrible my faith was. My anger changed into my passion. I want to tell the world my story so that they can know the real Islam. Don't talk about me, come talk to me!
When I was a child my Sunday School teacher said, "Jesus loves all the children and he protects them from harm, always.” This really confused me because I thought, "What about my siblings and me? Why isn't he protecting us from harm?” As a teenager I had my first experience attending a Catholic Church service. A lot different from my Baptist roots! Then my uncle converted to Jehovah Witness and that was interesting, as he couldn’t celebrate birthdays or Christmas anymore. This all lead me on a spiritual journey of trying to understand religion. I was on a quest for answers. People I met from different religions had different answers to the question, “Was Jesus a man or a god, or both a man and a god?” Pastors and Ministers couldn’t agree even on that ... So my search for answers continued.
The daughter of a Christian preacher, I was raised in the South with little knowledge of the world beyond. I embraced Islam as my faith just as the world began getting smaller (with the advent of the Internet) and it seemed so confusing and murky to me, as a college sophomore. Differing cultures, ideas and religions began crowding around me at a time when I had many unanswered, soul-troubling questions. Now, my struggles with purpose and place are over. My world is wide and full. I am determined to experience and share the best of it...one person at a time.
Lesbian Suburban Parent
Raising children is a rewarding and challenging responsibility. Raising adopted children, while being a married lesbian couple in suburbia, compounds the mix. My partner (my wife) and I have two beautiful, successful daughters adopted from China. Traditionally suburbia is more conservative than say, Chicago. However, the suburbs were where we worked and wanted to live. “Coming out” never ends; both for the parents and for our daughters who have to say, “Yes, I have two moms.” Most experiences have been positive, but one has to continually survey the situation and/or environment to determine how much to share. Most people probably wouldn’t give a second thought to answering day-to-day questions. I can give insight to the questions that cause us to pause.
Although baptized Catholic as a baby, I never had religion in my life and fought actively against its hypocrisies after being told by “Christians” that I was going to Hell. I lived fine with comfort and logic but was empty and always yearned for more, which ultimately destroyed my first marriage, my career and the life I knew. After years of bottoming-out self-destruction, I met my now husband, a Christ follower with vastly different views. I reluctantly agreed to attend church with him, and after a hard-fought battle of wills and a lifetime of transformative experiences in a short three years, I have accepted that Jesus loves me, has forgiven me for my sins and embraces diversity with love and without exception.
New Christ Follower
Living with MS
I was diagnosed with MS over twenty years ago. I simply woke up one morning and couldn’t see. My eyes wouldn’t focus; everything looked blurry and distorted. A neuro-ophthalmologist told me I had optic neuritis, a common symptom of multiple sclerosis. It’s devastating to learn you have an incurable, highly unpredictable disease. The cause of MS is still unknown. It involves an abnormal response in which the body’s immune system attacks its own central nervous system, causing inflammation that damages myelin (the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers). The course of the disease can take several forms. However, therapies developed in the past couple of decades have greatly improved quality of life for many patients. Yes, I have MS, but I refuse to let it define who I am!