Since students aren’t able to learn on our campus right now, Neighborhood House’s youth library has gone mobile.
Every other Friday, the literacy team climbs into big white vans packed with books and drive across the city delivering to students ages 5 to 14. The purpose of this program is to instill the love of reading and encourage students to turn to books to empower them, expand their minds, and build their confidence.
Students in the program are multilingual and multicultural, and selected books strive to reflect their lived experience. “The books we choose attempt to grapple with a number of pivotal issues and examine the changing face of social, cultural, gender, and global relations. The literature selection aims to empower folks to think critically about their circumstances and provide tools and examples of progressive social change,” says Sara, an AmeriCorps VISTA with Neighborhood House focused on promoting literacy.
Kids get two books, sometimes more, every two weeks to read—but that timeline can be extended if they need more time with a book. Once they’re finished, staff speak with students to see if the books were a good fit. They discuss if the books are too easy or too hard, if they liked the topic, and what other types of stories interest them. This way staff can personalize their choices and find the best books for each student.
It’s a nice break from the constant online learning that students are now experiencing. Sara explains, “Because students have been doing school from home since March, online learning fatigue is growing. Books are a good way for them to take their eyes off the screen and give them a break.”
But the kids aren’t the only ones enjoying the program. “The books in our library are phenomenal. It’s no surprise the parents are enjoying them as well; it’s a beautiful thing,” says Sara. “The priority and intention of our library is to make language accessible to folks who are at, or near, the front lines of class struggle.”
Will the Mobile Library stop running anytime soon? Not according to Sara. “The literacy team has every intention of continuing this project throughout the year and hopefully longer. Right now delivering literature is helpful because the Wellstone Center is not open to the public. I can see this continuing to be successful even as our campus and on-site library opens again, as not everyone has easy, affordable access to transportation to get here.”
If you’d like to support the Mobile Library, you can make a donation by clicking here.