by Gary Mlodzik
Photos by Gary Mlodzik

Those that travel the Pacific Northwest often hear of the riches of the Microsoft millionaires in Washington, see the influence of the Nike Empire in Oregon, and play in the ski resorts of Idaho. There is certainly plenty of wealth to be enjoyed, but that wealth does not extend throughout each state. Kids Need to Read’s (KNTR) Grow Your Library Program Director Gary Mlodzik researched areas of each of these states, locating libraries in communities ranging in poverty levels of 48% to 100%. All of the libraries contacted were anxious for help through KNTR’s Grow Your Library program. Donations of 200 books, with an average value of $2,588, were made to each of these community libraries by KNTR.

Janeille Bennett, Head Librarian of Vale Public Library (OR), said the new additions are “so, so, so nice for the kids,” adding that the donated books are of quality and are a good mixture.

When asked about the availability of new children’s books for Castle Rock Public Library (WA), Library Director Vicki Selander was quick to respond, “We rarely have money to buy books.”

3 - Castle Rock GYL 20170711_1117191

Some of these small libraries are merely a store front, yet they encourage reading through summer reading programs. Passion for improvement is evident and dreams of a budget to fulfill those dreams are ever present. With a limited staff and a shortage of volunteers, even story time is not a regular occurrence at some libraries. With no regularity, it is difficult to get kids into the habit of weekly visits to the library.

5 - Castle Rock GYL 7.11.2017 - Tina reading Starfish On the Beach

However, even in a small town, an active core of volunteers and supportive parents can result in a successful weekly program that sparks an interest in books.

3 - Vale GYL - 7.20.2017 - The group loves Rappy

The kids gave their attention to Rappy Goes to the Library and Starfish on the Beach.  Grow Your Library Volunteer Storyteller Tina Mlodzik keeps the events interactive, asking the children questions throughout the stories. The children participate with passion! They love to be involved.

199 - Homedale GYL - 7.21.2017 - Tina reading Starfish

The children even listen patiently when they are told how they can make a difference in their own community libraries by making a small effort to communicate with Kids Need to Read. The kids get really excited to find out they can help get more books for their library.

1 - Vale GYL - 7.20.2017 - The kids poay close attention

At Homedale Public Library (ID), the children were enthusiastically playing with Legos before story time. The plastic blocks were a huge hit … until Tina unveiled a real starfish. The Legos were soon forgotten as the kids were amazed by a creature of nature. They were sponges of information while Tina shared starfish facts.

5 - Vale GYL - 7.20.2017 - Starfish education

Visiting these three libraries in July brought together 42 children and their families. The children were so thankful to receive their very own book and Highlights magazine, courtesy of Kids Need to Read. Receiving hugs from a grateful child is the best reward for volunteer time.

4 - Vale GYL - 7.20.2017 - a thank you hug is the best

Some kids were very excited to share their new book with their infant siblings!

332 - Homedale GYL - 7.21.2017 - Sharing your new book with the baby

The Grow Your Library program has now visited twelve libraries across the United States. For 2018, libraries are being researched in Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama. As this program continues to grow, Kids Need to Read is thankful for the moral support and book donations by authors and publishers.

Wendelin Van Draanen, author of over 30 books, shared her thoughts regarding the Grow Your Library program: “Thank you for getting books onto the shelves for the kids . . . and I do appreciate that mine are among them. Continued success—what you do is so valuable!”

Author Ashley R. Carlson shared her excitement: “I am so incredibly impressed by this cause, and honored to be involved.”

Like the passionate staff and volunteers at Kids Need to Read, many people feel reading should be a priority in the life of every child. To be a part of this amazing support team, please make your tax deductible donation to Kids Need to Read.

Please stop at your local library and see all that they have to offer. Thank a librarian for everything they do to add education and enjoyment to our lives. Or, stop in for a moment to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere. You might even find a seat in the shade with a view.

333 - Homedale GYL - 7.21.2017 - Relaxing at the library



Leave a Reply