Chloe Grifhorst and Lily Howland love reading books, especially fiction by authors like John Green and Margaret Peterson Haddix. They want others in Cedar Springs to enjoy books whenever they want, for free.
So the enterprising sixth-graders from Red Hawk Elementary went out and got themselves a $250 grant to build a Little Free Library – a free-standing structure where students and community members can take and give books as they choose. Chloe and Lily recently were awarded the grantfrom the Cedar Springs Education Foundation.
They’re now forming a committee to design and build a structure somewhere on the Cedar Springs Public Schools campus. They hope to collect donated books and have it open by school year’s end, to fill what they see as a community need.
“We know there’s (already) a library, but not all people have access to it on a daily basis,” Chloe explained. Added Lily, “We wanted to make sure people know how important reading is, and learn to love reading.”
The idea grew out of “geographic inquiry” discussions in teacher John Willette’s social-studies unit, in which he cited the nationwide Little Free Library movement as an example of how to implement a public project using data. The idea caught Lily and Chloe’s interest, and he suggested they form a group to build one with grant funding.
“I just sort of planted the seed,” Willette said. “From there, they’ve taken off with it.”
The students put together a persuasive PowerPoint presentation to the Education Foundation, in one week over lunch hours and recess. Within two days they learned they’d gotten the grant, much to their amazement.
Their advice to other students with big ideas? Chloe: “Don’t be afraid to try new things.” Lily: “Don’t think just because you’re a kid you can’t do it. You can meet your goals if you believe in yourself.”