Fourteen little free libraries open to Peoria area elementary schools, hopes to increase literacy

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PEORIA, Ill.– 14 little free libraries are open to 13 Peoria Public School elementaries, plus the Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center on Friday. It’s a story that’s making us Central Illinois Proud. 

The “Read Peoria” initiative is a collaboratin between the school district, Align Peoria and the Peoria Public Schools Foundation. This effort is to support the ultimate goal ensuring all students are reading and have access to books. Third grade marks a crucial inflection point in a young child’s academic career, when coursework shifts from learning to read to reading to learn.

“Reading is really important because it increases your intelligence,” said Stacy Hardin, who owns the Book Rack in Peoria. “It makes it better for you to get a good job when you get older. You’re more successful in school. It’s very important, so we need to increase the literacy rates here in the community.”

Each little library has an adopter, which helps fund the donation of books and maintains the libraries. 

“Not everyone can make it to the Peoria Public Library,” said Hardin. “It’s a free service, but it’s difficult sometimes for some people to get there. So, having [books] accessible at their school is going to make a huge difference on how kids get their hands on books.”

The little free libraries were designed and built by Woodruff Career and Technical Center students. 

The idea came from Stacy Hardin, who owns the Book Rack in Peoria.

“I am so excited, like I’m trembling I’m so excited,” said Hardin. “It makes me cry when I think about it, sometimes in the meetings with these wonderful people I do cry, because it’s just something that has really been a part of who I am for my entire life and now to see it comes to fruition is just extremely exciting.”

The Book Rack is located at 4408 N Knoxville Ave # 2C, Peoria, IL 61614.

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