MARLBORO — The many events that have changed our world in 2020 have not escaped the eyes of children, but some of them may be wondering why these things are happening, or why they are significant.

Such was the case with 8-year-old Madison Franklin when she saw video of the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis in late May. It was the first time she learned the definition of the word "racism" and why Floyd's killing sparked protests and riots, according to her mother, Tara.

In trying to teach her daughter more, Tara reasoned that children's books would be the easiest way to reinforce these lessons, and so she said she ordered "a bunch" of them.

Given that foundation, and with libraries still closed at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Madison, an only child, came up with an idea to increase socialization and engagement with her friends.

Since the summer, Madison's Magical Diversity Library has been headquartered in the Franklins' yard, complete with a ribbon-cutting carried out by Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik.

New Jersey 101.5 FM logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Readings attended by neighborhood children have been done by members of the Marlboro Police Department, motivational speakers and Black business owners.

The goal is to emphasize that differences exist among us but what makes us unique should be viewed as something positive, and young people should not be afraid to learn more.

"I feel like we've created this space now where people feel comfortable and the kids know what questions to ask, and they're all learning something," Tara said.

The makeshift library is both making donations of books to local groups and receiving book donations for Madison's collection. Children have been coming by to leave a book or take a book.

For Tara Franklin, seeing kids read books on her front porch is a welcome change from the isolation of the beginning of the pandemic, and the tendency toward electronics that so many children can have.

Along with reading, the library offers arts and crafts, and most importantly, a discussion of what is being read and what it means in today's world.

"Just having the community come together during these negative times and make something positive out of it has been really amazing," Tara said.

After a Halloween costume contest this past weekend, Madison's Magical Diversity Library will close down its outdoor season with a visit from Exotic Animal Rescue and Spectrum Works on Friday.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

A look at Madison's Magical Diversity Library in Marlboro

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM