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Free lending library helps promote child literacy in Southern Colorado

Posted at 7:46 AM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 09:46:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — 15-year-old Isabelle Stone hopes to start a new chapter in a child's life. As part of a community outreach project through her American Heritage Girl's troop, Stone planned, fund raised and built a community lending library for young readers in the area.

"I've always loved reading and being able to do a project that helps bring other kids towards reading was really, really amazing,” she said.

Once just an idea, the little library now stands in front of the Children's Literacy Center in Colorado Springs, filled with books for anyone. The project is in partnership with the center, where Stone tutors during the school year. She said her experience tutoring inspired the creation of the library.

"Helping tutor and seeing all of these kids who want to learn how to read, too, was inspiring. I just wanted to build something that makes books easily available in a community where you don't have to drive somewhere necessarily to be able to read," Stone said.

She received donations from the community and earned money through bake sales to fund the project. Then, she designed and built the library with a little help from her dad.

Ann Sulley, philanthropy director for the Children's Literacy Center, said Isabelle came to her with the idea, and the rest is history.

"We've worked since like August together on this, with creating design and colors and fundraising,” she said. "I have wanted a lending library out there for forever. It was a match made in heaven for us."

Sulley said around 45% of third-graders in Colorado are reading below their grade level and that the library is a symbol to encourage reading in young children.

“We feel if we can catch those students at that age, it's easier to bring them up to speed. And they find the love for reading at that age versus if we wait a little bit longer, it's a little bit more of a struggle,” she said.

The literacy center holds a six week tutoring session during the summer, helping kids improve their skills outside of school.

"Our recruitment is basically through schools and teachers. They know which ones of their students are struggling so they will reach out to us," Sulley said.

Both Sulley and Stone agree that helping children means more than simply teaching them to read.

“We teach reading skills, but we're way more than that. It's self-esteem skills as well. So it goes the full gamut," Sulley said.

Now, with the lending library outside of the center, Stone hopes to encourage reading even when school is out for the summer.
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