Alvin and area Alert to Literacy Efforts

My Little Free LibraryThis past week in the Community Section of the Houston Chronicle (Yes, I still have the Chronicle delivered to my home each day; we’ve got to “do our part” to keep print newspapers going.)there was an article on Little Free Libraries in the area. Two of my friends were mentioned, and Alvin received some much overdue positive attention.We are working for literacy down here, one LFL at a time. Nan Self,a long time friend from previous AAUW membership, fellow member of the Alvin Historical Society and too numerous connections since the late sixties in Alvin to mention, was featured on the cover of the section with her red-white-and blue, two-shelf library. It was a lovely article, and also quoted Debbie Nance, librarian at Robert Louis Stevenson school across the street from my sub-division, who has written and received a grant to promote literacy by building and maintaining LFL’s in underserved Alvin neighborhoods. It was she who introduced me to the concept of Little Free Libraries and the international movement. She has a lovely LFL outside her home on a well-travelled road, “just up from” Alvin High School. Hers sits under a shaded tree, and there is a bench installed for weary walkers to rest and browse, sampling before selecting a book to take with them. It provides a moment away from the continuous traffic and the hustle and bustle of the area.My LFL is all about location, location, location–to quote a realtor friend. We are on the “main drag” into the subdivision between a primary school and an elementary school, two blocks down from the bus stop where the jr. high and high school students are dropped. We are on the side of the street that has sidewalks; our sidewalk is parallel to and within reachable distance from our LFL.Mt LFL was a 69th birthday gift, paid for by my husband and built of scraps from our house–shingles from the last time we had the roof done, scrap lumber from various projects, painted with leftover paint since our last painting adventure, and designed and executed by Robert Hockin of Alvin, a man of good will who does an amazing amount of good things for our church (South Park Baptist Church, located at the corner of Johnson and South Streets in Alvin–sorry had to get in a plug; we have been members there since 1968 and continue active membership today–as active as people our age can be.)and for everyone in the community. Robert and my husband set the post in concrete and let it “set” for a couple of days before attaching the little “house” that is my LFL and matches my house. A hurricane may wipe out my house, but the LFL in our side yard will stand!For my seventieth birthday, my Monday class at UHCL gave me a birthday party, and gifts were books for my LFL “Christmas Giveaway.” You have not celebrated until you have celebrated with 25 20-30+ year olds! It took me a full day to recover, but many books were distributed throughout my neighborhood thanks to my students that semester. I don’t think anyone, especially me, would forget that party or the lovely moments that caused my LFL to be the “gift that kept on giving.”We have done trick-or-treat outside our back drive, introducing parents and kids to the LFL, and often heard questions of, “How much does it cost?” “We can keep the books?”and, best of all, “Can I put the books my kids have outgrown in it?” Several young women keep paperbacks by Debbie McComer, Nicholas Sparks and other escape/when-I-have-a minute-to-read-books in plentiful supply at my LFL. There are evidently reading men in my neighborhood because detective novels like one I discovered in my own LFL, the Alex Cross series, a really good read either in series or as individual books. Fathers and mothers bring their little ones, lift them up to unhook the latch and help them select the books Mom and Dad will read to them.We are in the middle of our Spring Break push, offering the entire Treehouse series as well as the Magic Schoolbus books and at least three or four of the “Little House: series. Recently a dear friend gave me her son’s childhood books now that he is off to college. As she said, “Books should be in readers’ hands, not packed in boxes.” Good old Nancy Drew is making an appearance as are the Hardy Boys and the Boxcar Children. Even Spiderman, Batman, and Superman are making guest appearances in the form of Scholastic versions of their adventures in “reluctant reader” form. As I said, the Little Free Library is in its third year of giving and giving. My hairdresser and chiropractor here in Alvin have had bookshelves and space for free books for a long time, before the movement ever started.Yes, we are doing our part to promote literacy and distribute books here in Alvin.

 

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Author: Rae Longest

This year, I will have been a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for fifty years, a life time member (which means my fellow AAUW members will begin to pay my annual dues. (ha ha) In the 80's we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015 and went on from there (See "Introduction",first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 27th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are "in my blood" just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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