Students living in the neighborhoods near Clinton and Everett elementary schools will benefit from a new source of free children’s books this summer and beyond, thanks to a collaboration between students from those schools and Lincoln East High School.
About 350 East High students researched, built and painted three “little free libraries” that were recently installed along sidewalks outside homes in the Clinton and Everett neighborhoods. The idea behind little free libraries, which have been popping up across the country, is that anyone is allowed to borrow a book but is asked to either return the book or replace it with another.
The little libraries project made a big impact on the students involved, including East junior-to-be Mya Miller. She was among those who visited Everett one day during the last week of school and handed out free bookmarks to students at dismissal time. Miller also revelled in the Everett students’ reaction to the little library that was installed across the street from the school.
“It’s very cool to see how this turned out and how enthusiastic they were about this library because it’s great to see kids who want to learn and love to read,” Miller said.
She’s a member of the East Art Club, whose members helped paint two of the little libraries. They painted flags of countries from across the world on the Everett little library, similar to flags displayed inside the school that reflect the school’s diverse student population.
There also were East students from various classes - art, family and consumer science, woodworking - as well as special education students who helped with the project throughout the school year.
East librarian Jane Holt helped organize and guide the project, which spanned the entire school year. She was amazed by how many of the East students dedicated themselves not only to building the libraries but to connecting with the younger students and their neighborhoods. East students volunteered for events at Everett and Clinton, created bilingual brochures to promote the little libraries and learned more about many of the fifth-graders by teleconferencing with them and swapping questions.
“Along the way, these high schoolers have found themselves falling in love with Everett and Clinton elementary schools, their awesome students and the amazing power of reading, which opens up all kinds of worlds and connections,” Holt said.
Each little library holds about 40 books. Homeowners that welcomed a little library onto their property also received a supply of 200 books so they can replenish their collection when necessary. The books are in different languages and for a range of reading levels. They were paid for thanks to a grant through the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools.
Miller said the East Art Club wants to continue to take on community service projects every year.
“I really thought this was an important thing to do,” she said, “not only for the community but as an experience.”
Published: June 1, 2018, Updated: June 1, 2018