Bradley Co. elementary school opens free community library
After Principal Jennifer Huskins learned that some of her students at Waterville Community Elementary wanted to read at home, but couldn't -- she knew she had to do something.
"When you find out that children don't have books, it's a quick reminder: What can we do to put books in their hands?" Huskins said.
That's how "The Canoe" was born. It's the Bradley County school's "Little Free Library."
The covered bookshelf, shaped like a canoe, sits in front of the school. Anyone in the community is invited to use it at any time, said Huskins. That includes after school, during breaks, and on weekends.
Unlike normal libraries, there are no late fees or due dates.
"They can keep (the book). They can return it. They can share it. I mean, you can do so much. It's unbelievable," said fifth grader Will Young.
Waterville serves an area of Bradley County that is mostly rural and lower-income.
"Some people don't have the chance to get books," said Young. "Our library is like, the only place that they can get books because their families are so poor."
"A lot of the children I work with come from homes that may or may not have a lot of books," said Lisa Gwaltney, Title 1 Instructional Assistant.
Gwaltney pointed out that a trip to the nearest public library can be tough on busy parents.
"We're kind of far from the library. That's a 'trip into town', we say," she said.
Now a simple walk to the bookshelf can unlock a whole new world, one kids can be excited about exploring.
"There's something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages," Gwaltney said. "Being able to own a book is huge for a lot of our kids."
The school rotates new books into the library each week. They're accepting book donations to help keep the selection fresh. Donations may be dropped off at the school, which is located on Dalton Pike in Cleveland.