Local students part of providing reading materials for all

HARLINGEN – Students leaned over the wooden boxes, grasping the brushes as they swept red paint across the sides.

The Little Free Libraries seemed in a state of transformation Wednesday afternoon.

Students worked vigorously on the boxes at LeMoyne Gardens, a community which is part of the Harlingen Housing Authority.

“I think it’s coming out really well,” said Alejandro Muniz, a junior at Harlingen High School. Muniz, a student in Linda Salina’s AP European History class, led the service learning project.

The class received the boxes a few weeks ago from Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization which seeks to inspire a love of reading through book exchanges.

The small boxes hold books which can be borrowed like a traditional library.

However, instead of checking out a book, borrowers simply replace it with another book.

Muniz planned to install one little library at LeMoyne Gardens and one at each of the four other communities of the housing authority.

It’s only fitting these areas, in which residents have limited financial resources, would receive the small libraries.

The U.S. Department of Education says up to 61 percent of low-income families don’t have books in the home for their children.

The project is part of the College Board’s AP with WE Service Pilot Program, which focuses on integration of service-learning opportunities into the AP curricula.

Salinas and the students found a way to apply studies in European history to contemporary issues.

“WE makes connections with real world service learning,” she said. “We studied the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution.”

From there, students learned about inequities in education throughout history. From that, they explored how people were often limited in the educational opportunities depending on their economic status. Social and political standing were also factors which, again, tied in with financial prosperity.

“It was related to areas of poverty and access to books,” she said. “This is going to be a big benefit here at LeMoyne Gardens.”

Superintendent Art Cavazos met with the students Wednesday while they worked on the boxes.

“Literacy is an important part of learning and being successful,” he said. “Leaders are readers.”

The box at LeMoyne Gardens will be well protected, standing beneath bright lights across the street from the Family Learning Center and the butterfly garden.