Friday, September 25, 2009

Opportunity is underestimated

The Roseland Library/Bookstore was a buzz of activity when I entered. Ms. Anna's class from the After-School Academy was there for their KidzLit reading class. They had finished reading the book and doing their activities and were all browsing the library.

I noticed a low-key rucus begining to take place. I looked over to see Randy rather upset. One of the kids had picked up a book and Randy was afraid he was going to buy it. Miss Katrina intervened, "What's wrong?" Randy, upset, tried to explain, "He's got the book I wanted to buy!!" Katrina calmly explained to Randy, "He doesn't have any money with him today. He was just looking at the book." The other child finished looking at the book and turned it over to Randy. Randy was then able to get his book and pay Miss Katrina at the check out desk. (I believe I heard a sigh of relief. :) )

After his purchase, I realized Randy had already bought three other books that same day.

Randy quickly settled into one of the library tables and began soaking in every word on the page.

The Roseland Library/Bookstore is open for kids, teens, and adults Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:00-7:30, Fridays from 3:00-5:30, and Saturdays from 10:00-4:00. Miss Katrina facilitates story times and book clubs for kids and teens. All books are available to read in the library or to purchase--25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks.
In the past, we've given away books to the kids so they could build their library. It wasn't uncommon to see books laying all over the yard outside as kids dropped them in order to run and play and then forgot to pick them back up. Now that we have a bookstore in the community, books are going like hotcakes. And, as far as I can tell, not a one of them gets left behind. Miss Katrina has sold 24 books so far...and we've only been open for 8 days.

1) Charity is not the operative word; opportunity is. Affordability is the issue. Charity can be devalue opportunity. 2) When kids are given the opportunity, don't underestimate. Families want the best for their children and children love to learn. 3) How can we expect kids to love to read when there are no libraries close to Roseland (and many other inner city communities) and bookstores are cost prohibitive?

I am not surprised how the kids are responding. For 14 years I have been engaged with people who live in inner city communities who simply want the same access and opportunity as people in other neighborhoods. When that access is available, people respond.
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