A New Detroit, One Book at a Time

Saturday, on a family walk, we heard a series of close gun shots. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!  I’m used to counting them because we immediately report them on the Detroit Police app.  This is our reality.

Luke’s new favorite question, “What happened?” rang through the air as Josh and I stood there looking unsure about everything.  How do we navigate this conversation with our sweet toddler boys?   In our silence, the boys decided it was a “hammer, hammer, hammer.”  Kids are awesome. They have a whole lifetime to find out about the bad, so let’s fill their days with as much good as possible.

That’s what you’re doing when you’re sending books to our neighborhood.  Together, we’re filling little minds with adventure, love, and stories of heroes that look like them. That’s the Detroit I want my kids, and all kids, to grow up in.

In the last three weeks, since I posted this blog, we have collected over 275 new books for our Little Free Library serving Detroit Public School students!  We’ve been reading them as they come in and they are just awesome–almost all of them feature an African American as the main character.  I can’t wait to get them into kids’ hands, hearts and homes.  Used books are starting to arrive as well and they are just as important and needed. THANK YOU.

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I spoke with the Principal of the Detroit Public School across the street and told her of all your donations.  She and I are very excited about this collaboration.  March is Reading Month, so we’ll get our Little Free Library in the ground, advertise a launch party and put up a display of books at the school.  The Principal also wants to make sure every parent knows about our Little Free Library at conferences.  What an honor to be serving alongside the dedicated teachers in this small way.

We are going to use some cash donations (totally unsolicited- you guys are incredibly generous) to buy books for at least two classrooms to take home and keep forever.  Our Amazon Wish List is updated to reflect this goal.  We’re also still in need of your gently used books so that we can keep the library filled with good reads for the kids in our neighborhood.

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Finally, I want to leave you with a story from my friend, Heather Perry, one of the smartest people I know.  I keep it close to my heart as a reminder of how meaningful a book can be to a child, and as a reflection of all the friends, old and new, that have given so generously from their hearts.  I’m sharing this with her permission.

“Books were a precious commodity to me in childhood. We didn’t have a lot of money, and looking back as an adult, I see how close we were to losing our house and how donated groceries and clothes brought us through some very hard times. I read every book in classroom libraries and we moved when I was in 2nd grade close enough to walk to the public library. That changed my Junior High and High School years in ways I can’t measure. To have my own book was a very big deal.

I still have books given to me in 6th grade from my favorite teacher. She would give them for 1st or 2nd place in spelling or geography contests. And she would always write a personal message on the inside the front cover. She had a small shelf in her closet we could choose from, and if someone wanted something she didn’t have, she’d go to the little bookstore in town. At the end of elementary school (6th grade), I had one shelf of books that were mine (my favorite part of my bedroom!). They were read dozens and dozens of times. I’ve managed to keep a handful all these years and moves later. So if you find a student who would treasure a book or two of their own, please let me know, so I can help in some small way.”

Your hearts and your gifts are big, my friends. Thank you.

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