Community News: Little Free Libraries to be planted at Hollis Innovation Academy, sponsored by Westside Future Fund

The power of a good book is not lost on any avid reader. But what about young kids who don’t have access to or haven’t been introduced to a good book?

How will they find out how meaningful reading can be to their lives? Westside Future Fund (WFF) is hoping it has found an answer to that question and wants to do its part.

As part of the Children’s March for Literacy, WFF recently partnered with The Empowered Readers Literacy Project to fund three Little Free Libraries on the westside of Atlanta. Little Free Libraries are free public book exchanges spread around cities and communities, often in the shape of a wooden box. Any interested reader can take a book or leave a book at any time.

The Little Free Libraries will be decorated before being planted at Hollis.

“Literacy is one of the biggest civil rights movements of our generation,” said Khalil Thompson of The Empowered Readers Literacy Project. “The fastest way to end up in a life of poverty or crime is to be illiterate. Making it easier for kids to find a book to read is a great way to curb that trend.”

The first of the three Little Free Libraries will be “planted” in Vine City April 24 at Hollis Innovation Academy. There will be a ribbon cutting event, starting at 10 a.m., that will be open to the public. While the new libraries will be fully stocked when planted, anyone who plans to attend the ribbon cutting is encouraged to bring a book to donate.

On top of fun activities like a literacy bus and an arts station, the event will feature a book reading by three young authors from the area who wrote “Roxie’s Day in Vine City.”

“We want other kids in the area to see these young authors and realize they look like you and live here like you and they are writing their own stories,” Thompson said. “Their voices matter, just likes yours!”

A group of Hollis Innovation Academy students called The Roses Group will decorate the libraries following the theme “Community Treasures.” The libraries are designed to be shaped like treasure chests, an idea from Thompson’s daughter, Selah. Thompson hopes by decorating them, the students will feel ownership of the libraries, inspiring them to continue to use and support them.

The three libraries being planted this month are a part of a larger program by The Empowered Readers Literacy Project called “On the Margins” that focuses on activating Little Free Libraries in underserved communities. Those communities are selected based on poverty and crime levels and the literacy performances of local schools.

Thompson and his team go out monthly to stock and service the libraries and make sure the books in them are appropriate and representative of the community. By going out into these communities, Thompson can see the big impact these little libraries have on their kids.

“The underlying message we want to convey to kids is that your voice matters,” Thompson said. “Your ideas matter. So go put those ideas into the world and see what happens.”

The three Free Little Libraries will contain books for children, young adults and parents.

If you are interested in supporting this cause, please attend the ribbon cutting event on April 24 or reach out to The Empowered Readers Literacy Project for more information.