Fairview El­e­men­tary ex­cited about its Lit­tle Free Li­braries

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DUANE M. FORD dford@cov­news.com

“This class be­lieves that time spent read­ing is time well spent,” Jan Hud­son, fourth grade teacher for Fairview El­e­men­tary School, said

When asked who reads ev­ery day and who has read a book in the past week, ev­ery one of her stu­dents’ hands shot up.

But not ev­ery stu­dent has ready ac­cess to books. Ac­cord­ing to Jen­nifer Cole, me­dia spe­cial­ist, some fam­i­lies do not have books in their homes, the school li­brary is only open dur­ing busi­ness hours and when school is in ses­sion, the near­est book­store is 45 min­utes away, and near­est pub­lic li­brary 30 min­utes away.

To help solve this ac­cess prob­lem as well as to sup­port their stu­dents’ read­ing habits, Hud­son and Cole teamed up to ob­tain fund­ing and then build, in­stall, and reg­is­ter the New­ton County School Sys­tem’s first two lit­tle free. li­braries. They hope other schools in New­ton County will fol­low suit.

The con­cept of lit­tle free li­braries is sim­ple. They make books avail­able all day, ev­ery day. Pa­trons are encouraged to leave a book in re­turn for tak­ing a book.

When asked to shout out rea­sons they are ex­cited about their lit­tle free li­braries, Fairview El­e­men­tary’s fourth grade stu­dents cre­ated

the fol­low­ing list, “We love read­ing. We can ex­change books. I have no books at home. We can talk about our books. I can bring a book I’m tired of and take a new one. When Mom [who is the art teacher] works late on the kiln I can read.” Cole added that stu­dents who live in the neigh­bor­hood will be able to walk to the lit­tle li­braries to get a book.

The project started last fall when Hud­son and Cole ap­plied for and re­ceived a $900 grant from the Snap­ping Shoals EMC Bright Ideas pro­gram. Ac­cord­ing to Snap­ping Shoals’ web­site, each fall the co­op­er­a­tive “awards grants, al­lo­cated from the co-op’s un­claimed cap­i­tal credit funds, to teach­ers from the schools that the elec­tric co-op serves in Rock­dale, New­ton, Henry and DeKalb coun­ties.” Last fall, they awarded $15,000 to sup­port 26 projects, in­clud­ing the lit­tle free li­braries at Fairview El­e­men­tary.

Hud­son and Cole used the grant money to pur­chase two kits from Lit­tle Free Li­brary, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to supporting the lit­tle free li­brary move­ment, as well as the other needed ma­te­ri­als. They as­sem­bled the lit­tle li­braries and painted them in Fairview‘s school col­ors. The school main­te­nance depart­ment dug holes and in­stalled posts for the li­braries to rest on. The li­braries were filled with books do­nated by the Me­dia Cen­ter, teach­ers, fam­i­lies, and stu­dents. They were reg­is­tered with Lit­tle Free Li­brary.

The of­fi­cial open­ing of Fairview El­e­men­tary School Lit­tle Free Li­brary, Char­ter #42731 oc­curred on April 3, 2017. Hud­son and Cole said they could not have done it with­out the sup­port of LaMoyne Brun­son, prin­ci­pal, and Yoli Curry, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal.

Cole will mon­i­tor the li­braries dur­ing the school year as well as dur­ing the sum­mer and other times when school is not in ses­sion to make sure they are filled with ap­pro­pri­ate read­ing ma­te­rial. Amy Weaver, art teacher, plans to dec­o­rate the li­braries; Hud­son and Cole hope to some­day place a bench near the li­braries as well as hold spe­cial events, such as a “me­dia pic­nic.”

Part of the in­spi­ra­tion for the project was a book, “Bi­b­lioburro, a true story from Colom­bia” by Jeanette Win­ter, which the class read ear­lier this year. The book is about a Colom­bian school teacher, Luis So­ri­ano, who ten years ago car­ried books by burro to give to stu­dents in re­mote ar­eas. Ac­cord­ing to Hud­son, Cole, the class, and she wanted to emu­late his work.

Duane Ford | The Cov­ing­ton News

One of two lit­tle free li­braries is seen at Fairview El­e­men­tary School.

Duane Ford | The Cov­ing­ton News

Pic­tured are Fairview El­e­men­tary fourth grade and other stu­dents with Jen­nifer Cole (left), me­dia spe­cial­ist, and Jan Hud­son (stand­ing fourth from right), teacher, in front of the school’s two lit­tle free li­braries.

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