Story of Our Little Free Spanish/English Library

There is probably nothing better as a child than bedtime stories read by your parent. Except …mastering reading yourself. Plus there is so much research that children who are read to have significant educational, social and even economic advantages. In homes where English is a second language and adults and youngsters are trying to learn the rather tricky “American,” the opportunities that family reading offers are not available to children. Plus books even in a first language may not have been a priority in transitioning to a new country.

So, in an effort to give Spanish speaking families the rewards of reading, the thought of a Spanish/English Little Library was first hatched at Church of the Holy Spirit. With input from the Island’s Spanish speaking community, the idea  along with costs swelled. Then in 2019, after connecting with Rotary, the Little Library was constructed with the assistance of Rotary muscle and money, as well as contributions from parishioners of Church of the Holy Spirit . In 2020 children, many of whom would later use the multi-language Little Library, created colorful tiles to decorate the Library.

Books were chosen by educators, parents and readers. Included on the shelves are simple storybooks with both English and Spanish, books on popular youth activities such as baseball and ballet in both languages, best sellers with separate books in English and Spanish. Parishioners were blessed to be asked to donate and wrote cheques to cover the purchase of the above  on several occasions.

The Little Library is now housed near the overhang at Chautauqua Elementary, giving easy access for schoolchildren to browse the shelves and pick a book. Although it is intended to be a lending library, the concept of checking out and returning books is not an idea shared by all cultures and some books do not return. Plus, the Outreach Committee recognizes that if a child falls in love with one book and thereby loves reading, taking away the book seems cruel as well as defeating the purpose. This explains why the shelves need replenishing from time to time.

Recently, the Vestry approved an Outreach Committee’s request to donate funds set aside for outreach efforts to be given to this Little Library. It is exciting to think of children learning to read, or families honing their language skills. Stop by the Elementary School and see if your favorite book is on the shelf!