Little libraries headed for South Hadley parks

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will

SOUTH HADLEY – Not only are public parks and areas of open space perfect places to picnic on a warm day, but they’re also great places to read. Adults often pack bags with their troves of titles, but what about youngsters?
South Hadley Girl Scout Troop 11253 has them covered.
Working toward earning their Silver Award, the highest achievement a cadet can procure, the Scouts have devised a plan to bring little libraries to public parks.
“We have a feeling that kids aren’t reading enough during the summer, and that might be affecting their education matters,” said Abbie Carey, 13.
Partnering with a Granby-based carpenter, Troop 11253 will craft three, freestanding structures from wood which resemble oversized birdhouses. A window allows for passersby to view different titles housed inside.
The Troop is seeking permission to place the three Little Free Libraries at the Village Commons, Buttery Brook Park and the Beachgrounds Park.
Each little library will house between 15 and 20 books. The idea is for young children and parents to visit a little library, choose a book, read together and then return the title. The books aren’t meant to be kept; the honor system is in place.
A book donation was held at the Michael E. Smith Middle School earlier in the year in which the Scouts collected books ranging from picture to chapter books.
Carey said she hopes the Troop’s initiative will allow children to develop greater “reading skills, better vocabulary, and stuff like that,” she said.
Troop 11253 consists of seven Girl Scouts. Each Scout has been tasked with an assignment. The girls, while working individually, are simultaneously working together as a whole.
Currently, the library structures are in the construction phase. An official installation and reveal is set for Aug. 1. The Troop plans to keep the Little Free Libraries up until November.
“While they’re playing at the spray park or Beachgrounds, they could take a break and read to their children,” said Troop 11253 Leader Martha Guild of how parents can use the Little Free Libraries with their children.
The project is something that involves the interests of all the Girl Scouts in the Troop, she said. “They took off with it.”
As a spin-off on their initiative to promote reading, the Girl Scouts have been hosting a reading activity at the Beachgrounds Park on Mondays. They can be found in left field of the baseball field under a tree. Every Monday at 11 a.m. at the park, Girl Scouts read to younger children. They’ve included a song and a craft activity in their weekly reading. Anyone is welcome to join in. The reading program runs until Aug. 11.
“It’s a way of bringing the neighborhood together, and bringing the neighborhood together around books,” said Guild.