By Kerry Roeder, Executive Director
To kick off the summer, we had a wonderful celebration of reading as we unveiled our newest Little Free Library in Fairhill. Art teachers, Ms Fontaine & Ms Gutman, worked with middle schoolers to create this new addition to our community. It is installed at the Semilla Children’s Garden across the street from Julia de Burgos Elementary and bears the logo “Take a book, Share a book”.
Historic Fair Hill is a proud member of the Read by 4th campaign in Philadelphia, working with over 100 local organizations to protect every child’s right to read. As part of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the goal of the coalition is to get every student in our city reading on grade level by 4th grade. This is a pivotal year since it’s when reading shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Currently, 2 out of every 3 children in Philly are reading below grade level.
In addition to our reading buddy, library, and classroom assistant programs, Historic Fair Hill has been working to expand the home libraries of our kids in Fairhill. Many of our students have reported having between 0 and 10 books at home. Having a home library of even 20 books can help create a culture of reading and learning in a child’s home. We work with Reading Recycled, First Book Philadelphia, and countless book drives in the area to gather new and gently used books to share. If you have ever been to one of our events, you know we love a good book table! We also have been able to have regular book giveaways at our partner schools.
Last year, volunteers, Pierre & Debbie, built a beautiful little library that now lives in the burial ground. It is regularly filled with new books and kids love exploring what’s inside. We’ve also started putting activity books and seeds for kids to grow at home.
We wanted to do more to promote home libraries and contribute to the literacy landscape in Fairhill. With a generous grant from Children First, we have been able to purchase 4 more little libraries and have been working to place them around the neighborhood. Our goal is to have one by or at each of our partner schools, so that readers can grab books to enjoy on their way home and then share what they are reading with others.
If you are interested in hosting a book drive or making a donation to support our home library work, please feel free to reach out.