Children attending and living near four Dayton elementary schools have increased access to free books with the opening of four new little libraries.
The so-called “houses of knowledge” are outdoor, birdhouse-like structures that can hold more than 75 books at a time. They were placed at Fairview Elementary, Edison Elementary, Westwood Elementary and Cleveland Elementary.
At a ceremony unveiling the one at Fairview Tuesday, Karlos Marshall, co-founder of the group The Conscious Connect, which places little libraries throughout the region, explained to assembled students how it works.
“Any time that you come to school, you’re more than welcome to take a book. You can leave a book. You can take them home and leave them with you. How does that sound?” he asked.
“Good,” yelled a chorus of young voices.
Marshall explained further in an interview: “This is about ensuring that all children, youth and families have access to high quality, affordable and culturally relevant print books for free in walking access at all times.”
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The houses of knowledge were built and donated by the Boy Scouts Troop 68 from Beavercreek and will be supported by the Dayton Foundation.
“I wanted other people to have books near them,” said Boy Scout Cody Granger about his Eagle Scout project. “Children who read a lot learn to be better readers. I hope this helps children learn to love books too.”
The four schools that were chosen are neighborhood school centers that work to offer supports to families in the surrounding neighborhoods. Dayton school board president William Harris said this is a great example of how the district and surrounding community can partner to help kids.
“Anything the community can do, and when we can work together, to help our kids read and advance their knowledge and uplift their reading scores is critical to us,” he said. “We are grateful for that partnership.”
Also grateful is sixth-grader Arianna Peagler, who read a statement on behalf of her classmates at an event unveiling the house of knowledge at Fairview Tuesday.
“This library will allow us to be inspired,” she said. “We may find out in this library about a young person like us who made a difference in the world, which in turn will motivate us to want to make a difference as well.”
The Conscious Connect has established 90 literary access points in a 50-mile radius from Dayton to Springfield to Trotwood. They are in barbershops, beauty salons, churches, community centers, residential lots and more. The group distributes more than 30,000 free books a year.
Marshall said they try to focus on literary deserts, places where families are less likely to have books in the home. And they strive to offer culturally-relevant books, meaning if they are in a minority neighborhood the have characters that reflect the community.
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