What must be two decades ago now, midst a flurry of efforts to encourage and support early readers, Sherry Lampman observed that, while it’s great to give books to young readers, kids also need a safe place to store their treasures – they need bookcases. Kids need to know that books are special, that books deserve special care, that a kid can actually own a book that is his or hers alone to treasure, that a book is to be read and read again. Sherry’s intriguing idea has floated through my mind many times over the years….
Until just yesterday when I learned about the national “Bookcase for Every Child” project! The project is thus described in the promotional materials:
“This project provides quality, personalized, oak bookcases, and a starter set of books, to pre-school children being reared in low-income families.” The seed that Sherry had planted in my mind has taken root in Arkansas and environs.
Now copyrighted, the “Bookcase for Every Child” (http://www.bookcaseforeverychild.com) began nearly a decade ago in Conway, Arkansas. There’s a comprehensive development plan that includes tips on who needs to be in the “central committee” – the local librarian, a representative of the faith community, media reps, elected officials, a “literacy-minded banker” to serve as treasurer, and, of course, a “master craftsman to head up the bookcase builders.”
The erstwhile folks at Bookcase for Every Child are serious about all this – they also provide detailed information on just what resources the “master craftsman” and the building crew will need. (http://www.bookcaseforeverychild.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=72)
And they’ve made progress, particularly in the area around their starting point in Conway. There’s a fun slide show that shows not only the finished bookcases, but the exuberant responses of builders and young readers alike. (http://thecabin.net/slideshow/greenbrier/2014-05-27/bookcase-every-child)
I’ve had a fun time exploring the unique website sponsored by the project and the energetic project director, Jim Davidson (http://www.bookcaseforeverychild.com/index.php?option=com_contact&view=category&catid=12&Itemid=58) Davidson’s energy and enthusiasm for the task rekindle that thought that Sherry had shared all those years ago. Jim writes and believes and “bookcases save lives, bookcases with books save lives, reading saves lives, literacy saves lives….” He is still working on the project from his home in Conway – Jim Davidson, 1 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034, 501-4507743.
I’m wondering now if Minnesota, land of 10,000 amateur craftsmen and grandpas, might offer a fertile growing environment for this special idea. It can’t hurt to transplant the seed….