The Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District is "The Little District Who Could." When I student-taught there, it was a horrible mess. New leadership, very hard work and a decade later, children are thriving!
The tax base is small and more than half of our kids received free or reduced-cost lunches. The Early Childhood Center (Pk-1) has no librarian because the money was needed for another reading interventionist. Who can argue with that?
In the fall, a group of 20 brave parents spent two days organizing the library. To date, 585 books have been removed from the collection due to age (some were 40 years) and wear. We're taking a break to replenish before continuing the purge!
Since November, volunteers have greeted classes for weekly read-alouds and book check-outs. Many of our kids have very hard working parents, so for many, this is their first and only exposure to a library. It's a weekly love-fest with books and reading at its core!
Why bother? If these children feel welcome and comfortable, they will establish warm feelings toward the library experience. For some, this will be the key to a lifetime of access to books, regardless of socio-economic status. For a lifetime. That should be our motto.
Sure, we middle to upper class people know that public libraries are free, but discomfort and fear of the unknown will keep a lot of people from ever walking in the door.
Yesterday, a girl came to me and said, "I want a really good book. Do you have any of the ones with one of those medals on it?" We did, but just a couple.
Today's a snow day, so I had some time to think. It's the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal. What if these kids has access to all of them, just like the kids in the wealthier districts around them? Then, I reread a quote from Roald Dahl, "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
The strongest, most transformational magic we have is love. Help me throw some love toward 300 kids. Together, we'll make Library Magic.
Should we raise more than is needed for our Caldecotts, we'll buy runners up!
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