As drivers make their way down Edmond Matthis Road, the sign at Union Intermediate School announces that today’s readers make tomorrow’s leaders and the media specialist and members of the Battle of the Books team couldn’t agree more.
Caren Long and nine of her students are working to bring books into areas of the county that don’t have a library and are not closely located to one of the libraries in the county’s system.
“I saw one of my students over the summer and asked them if they were reading,” Long said. “Because they live too far from a local library and they don’t have a library card, they said they weren’t able to read. That broke my heart.”
The library at Union Intermediate School is open one day a week during the summer to assist students with summer reading, but Long said even the drive to the school is too far for some of her students and she and her Battle of the Books team wanted to do something to change that.
According to Long, with the help of her fourth and fifth grade students, recycled newspaper racks will be refurbished into mobile libraries. Thanks to a donation by The Sampson Independent, three unused racks will be painted by the students and filled with books that are appropriate for all ages.
“Kids need to read during the summer,” Long said. “My students love to read and they want their fellow classmates to have the same opportunity.”
The boxes will be placed in Harrells, Ivanhoe and Turkey at central locations. Anyone who needs a book can pay a visit to one of the racks, choose a book and return the book when they are finished. There is no cost for “borrowing” a book and Long said there is no library card needed.
“Our goal is to fill each box with a variety of books and keep them swapped out,” Long said. “If our students don’t read over the summer, they lose it. They need access to books because they don’t have them at home.”
Literacy, Long said, is very important in making each child succeed in their schooling. Long’s team, who serves as library assistants when they can, agree.
“It makes me happy to help people read more,” Jayden Swinson, fifth grade student, said.
For students Briana Allen and Yasha Kirk, the mobile libraries will allow students a chance to get more books to read during the summer and give those students who don’t have books at home an opportunity to borrow books.
“This will give kids a chance to read and by reading they can learn new words,” student Luke Cain said.
Other students involved in the project are Luis Alviar, Lauren McMillan, Jaretzi Lopez, Maylin Morales and Daniela Cervantes, who all agree that the access to more books will aid students in the learning process.
“Kids have a chance to read and become more imaginative,” Morales said.
Long and the students are taking book donations. A collection box will be available in the office of UIS. Books for all ages are accepted, but Long asked they be appropriate reading material and in good condition.
“I hope we are able to get dictionaries, board books, magazines … every thing a person would want to read,” Allen shared.
For more information or to speak with Long about donations, please call the school at 910-592-2287. Long hopes to complete the project by the beginning of the summer, so that students can begin getting books as soon as school dismisses for the break.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.