Building young readers, one book at a time

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The Little Free Library will be located outside of Tippi Teas at 5034 Doniphan Ave.

The Little Free Library, a movement that was first started in Wisconsin, has expanded over the past five years. As a result of its success, El Paso has joined the cause to increase literacy rates and has built a new one just outside Tippi Teas.

Louie Rodriguez, senior business major, who built the new library along with the help of a non profit organization known as the WoodWorkers Club of El Paso, said this project is focused around the idea to increase children’s literacy rates in El Paso, which is listed as the third-least literate city in the U.S.

“El Paso has extremely low literacy rates and with the help of Lisa Lopez, city ambassador for these projects, this movement has continued to spread throughout the city and has allowed for kids of all ages to enjoy the benefit of reading,” he said.

Little Free Library became a formal, independent organization in 2011 with nearly 400 libraries.Now, approximately 15,000 libraries have been built all around the U.S. Its previous name was Habitat for the Humanities and was later known as Houses of Stories, but the name Little Free Library has stuck
among children.

Rodriguez became interested in the project and appreciates the concept behind it. He decided that it would be a cool weekend project to work on.

“We collaborated with Tippi Teas, a locally owned business, that already provides free children’s books inside their shop to have his approval to give a home to the library,” Rodriguez said. “Construction began with my father and I working on it until we got a good solid product after many attempts. The El Paso Woodworkers helped in building the base, doors and providing me with the official plaque with its own unique
charter number.”

Also contributing to the façade of the library was Roman Martinez, a local artist who helped with
the artwork.

“A wide variety selection of books will be provided for all kids who visit the different locations around El Paso,” Rodriguez said. “We mainly accept book donations from other nonprofit organizations, sometimes I like to personally go to a bookstore and pick something special out for the library or even donate a book out of my personal collection.”

The main goal of this movement has always been to expand the knowledge that reading provides to readers. Therefore, no fees and no library card are required to check
out a book.

“Anyone is more than welcome to pick out a book and take a seat to read,” he said. “This is a place where anyone is free to donate one of
their books as well, all for the love
of reading.

Stephanie Corral, junior education major, said that this movement is a great idea for children of the community and the city.

“It is important to give children the opportunity to read because literacy plays an important part in their education,” Corral said. “It is also beneficial, because most often than not, children aren’t able to get their hands on literature as they cannot obtain their own library card, and with the Little Free Library, children are given this opportunity.”

Estefania Perea, senior advertising major, said this concept allows for a younger audience to read more. She said that she would be more than happy to take her little nephews to read some of these books, as they are still not of age to get their library card yet.

Corral said that overall the library is user friendly and its fun for children to have easy access to books to read and expand their literacy.

Rodriguez said he hopes to bring new opportunities to kids who don’t have the means of buying a book and to increase their desire to learn.

“It is a privilege to be able to read and is one of the oldest and most enjoyable forms of entertainment we have,” Rodriguez said. “No one is born with a love to read, it is learned. With projects such as this one we are able to put books in their hands and they are able to discover how much books have to offer.”

He hopes to spark interest in the community so that they too feel motivated to continue this movement and built more libraries across town.

Little Free Library is open during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is available year round.

For more information about locations in El Paso, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

Kimberly Valle and Andrea Acosta may be reached at [email protected]