Knowing the importance of early literacy to success in the classroom and the workforce, an effort to provide little free neighborhood libraries throughout Fresno City Council President Tyler Maxwell’s east-central Fresno district launched on Tuesday.
The campaign’s goal is to place one of the book-sharing kiosks in every District 4 neighborhood. The neighborhood libraries will serve as book exchange hubs where families can borrow or donate a book.
To help meet the organizers’ goals, Tuesday also marked the start of a city-wide brook drive. The aim is to collect 1,000 books in 30 days to help stock each new neighborhood library.
“The best investment we can make as a city is an investment into our children,” said Maxwell at the kick-off event at University Park near First and Ashlan avenues. “The goal is to ensure that no child is ever more than a 5-minute walk away from free books year-round.
“If 1,000 people can donate just one book, we will be able to fully stock a little library in every District 4 neighborhood and help keep our children on the same page academically.”
Watch: Fresno’s Danay Ferguson Promotes Literacy Through Reading Heart
Research shows that early literacy means helping children develop a rich vocabulary, self-expression, and reading comprehension. These skills enable them to become good readers and lifelong learners.
The University of Kanas School of Education and Human Sciences also has found that “literacy skills allow students to seek out information, explore subjects in-depth and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. When they can not read well, they become discouraged and frustrated by school, which can result in high school dropouts, poor performance on standardized tests, increased truancy, and other negative reactions, all of which can have major and long-lasting repercussions.”
The new “On the Same Page” campaign to promote reading and literacy in Fresno is a grassroots effort involving the local nonprofit Reading Heart, Iron Workers Local 155, Fresno State students, CSU Fresno Art and Humanities instructor Glenn Terpstra, and District 4 residents.
Over the next month, the ironworkers will install the little neighborhood libraries, which Fresno State students will design and paint with themes inspired by some of their favorite children’s books.
The deadline to donate books is Thursday, May 18. Residents can also call the District 4 office at (559) 621-8000 or send an email to District4@fresno.gov to donate books.
The book-sharing and little free library movements have gained steam in recent years. The leaders of littlefreelibrary.org based in St. Paul, Minnesota, say that their “vision is a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader. We believe all people are empowered when the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read is not limited by time, space, or privilege.”