Books, stories, music, and artistic activities make Street Libraries places where discovery and creativity grow into lifelong learning skills for children and families living in under-resourced communities.
Children and families join a respectful and stimulating atmosphere where they gain valuable skills and relationships that are essential to overcoming the daily challenges of poverty. Street Libraries create a space of peace and learning, reinforce the efforts families make, and develop deep, long-lasting relationships with members of the communities to overcome poverty.
Street Libraries developed from the principle of reaching towards a community’s aspirations and the aim of sharing knowledge in the heart of the community. The format is simple: colorful blankets on the ground, a communal time of reading and stories, followed by an activity promoting discovery, highlighting skills, and encouraging creative expression.
Behind the simplicity, however, are rigorous methods. Street Library volunteers from outside the community arrive at the same time every week, week after week. They invite all children, but keep a special eye out for those with the most difficulties. They solicit and rely on input and support from parents and other community members. They prepare achievable activities with quality materials.
From the collective art projects in which children work together towards the same goal, the simple actions of the Street Library program build a consistent, long-term, and trusted presence in low-income communities and with families struggling with persistent poverty. This relationship leads to further projects and partnerships that promote positive changes at different levels of society for families and communities in poverty.
Every summer, Festivals of Arts and Learning happen as extensions of weekly Street libraries. Throughout the United States, children living in poverty have less access to learning activities during a summer break, hence leaving them further behind when a new semester starts. Summer Festivals of Arts and Learning aim to bridge the learning gap between the end of the school year and summer vacation. Here’s an example of what we do.