Wish lists can make a difference for neighborhood children


Last updated 2/4/2013 at 5:20pm

The students, teachers and the librarian at three neighborhood schools have worked together to discover which books children would like to read, and now they are asking the people in their communities to help all children have the opportunity to enjoy a good book.

Students at Pittsburgh Phillips on South Side, Pittsburgh Whittier in Mount Washington, and Pittsburgh Grandview in Allentown all learned at the beginning of the school year they would only have a librarian in their school building one day each week. Because each of the schools have hundreds of children enrolled, even when the librarian is in the school building for the day, not all students have a chance to check out a book each week.

While some students can get to their school library twice each month, others only get to visit the school library every three to six weeks, and some wait even longer. Many children do not have books in their homes.

The public library system serves the needs of some, but many children do not have a library within walking distance of their homes, or the transportation to get to a branch of the Carnegie Library. For hundreds of neighborhood children, the school library is the only place where they can regularly have access to new picture books and novels, as well as accurate and up-to-date informational books.

Children will choose to read if they have new and interesting books that are appropriate for their reading level. Gail Livingstone, the librarian at each of the three schools, was very pleasantly surprised at the reaction of the students when she received new books in one library.

“When I presented new books to a few classes in the morning, the children cheered, shouted, screamed, clapped, and jumped out of their seats with joy. The sound of all the excitement coming from the library resulted in the news of new library book arrivals spreading throughout the entire school before lunch!” Ms. Livingstone said.

However, the budget cuts that reduced the librarian to one day a week at each of the schools has also impacted the ability of the schools to purchase books for the school libraries. This is where community members can help to really make a positive impact on the lives of our children.

Grandview, Phillips and Whittier school libraries each have a “wish list” at Amazon.com. Anyone with the desire to help children in their neighborhood can go to Amazon.com, click on “wish list” and type either “Grandview School Library,” “Phillips School Library” or “Whittier School Library” in the search box labeled “find someone’s list.”

Anyone can purchase a book or two from the list, and Amazon.com will ship the books directly to the school library.

Ms. Livingstone has already started to receive books at Whittier School Library.

“When we started to unpack the boxes from Amazon.com, the children were thrilled. They all got big smiles on their faces and threw their hands in the air when I explained what we were doing,” she said. “They were really very touched that strangers would be so kind to them and care so deeply about their education. The children said it was like ‘Christmas in the library!’”


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