Reading. It is an ability that perhaps you take for granted as you easily scan these grouped letters and purposely placed spaces and understand their message. Chances are that if you are a newspaper reader, you have been reading for a long, long time. Newspapers are not in the children’s section of the library for a reason, so chances are you are an adult reader. 

And because of that length of time between your first reading attempts and now,  maybe you have forgotten that thrill of being able to read. 

And maybe — just maybe — you have never felt the frustration of being unable to read. 

I have been reading since before kindergarten. A better way to put that is I have been in love with reading since before kindergarten. My parents love to tell about the time they put me, my sister and my brother to bed and then heard one of us talking. When they went to check on us, there I was “reading” a book upside  down in the dark.  

I can remember slipping into my SunSand sandals and summer shorts, piling up in our oh-so-80s family sea green four door short sedan with a white top and wheeling into the Paul Sullins Library for the summer reading program. Here come the Hollimons. That program was where I and a handful of other Crossett kids would plop down to hear a book read to us then be encouraged to ask questions. It was the very first book club I was ever in. And I loved it!

I remained excited about reading through my sixth grade year when, in Mrs. Sue Stanley’s English class at Daniels Middle School, we were assigned to dress up like some of our favorite book characters. I can remember Calamity Jane and the book about the kids who popped too much popcorn. 

I was still into reading in the seventh grade when Librarian Mrs. Emma Cornelious taught us how to write a book report. Enter Stephen King later that year because of my older cousin Annetta Runyan and at that point it was game over — reading just really appeals to my inner nerd. 

That’s why it is hard to imagine or even comprehend that some kids in Crossett don’t have that love affair in their life. Even as I wrote that sentence right there, I had to stop and ponder that. It is nearly unfathomable. But it exists — kids who cannot read or cannot read well enough to be downright charmed by it. And I know it exists not only because research has been done and published but because I spent a couple of years substituting in our schools. 

So now, in order to get kids excited enough to dedicate their energy to learning to read, Crossett Parks and Recreation and Mr. Bill Runyan have partnered with the Crossett Public Library to introduce Tiny Free Libraries to our community. You will find the first one at our Municipal Building on Main Street across from the Post Office. Take a book, leave a book but whatever you do read a book. 

I want to hear from our middle school and elementary  school teachers on what I am about to say here: I would like to enlist the help of some students who might not quite grasp the importance of books. I would like them to serve as Tiny Free Librarians to help us monitor the libraries, keep them stocked and tidy. Call 870-500-0303, Crossett teachers, if you know someone who could do this for us. 

And because we at Parks and Recreation like to include everyone, there will eventually be a Tiny Free Library or two for adults. Until then, though, the upper ages benefit from these libraries because they will put Crossett on a national list of communities that have added Tiny Free Libraries to their cityscape.  

Whether you grab a book from them or not, your quality of life will inch up just a bit because of them when they put Crossett on the mouths and minds of people who don’t live here. We start to appear on the map. Not to mention that this project will add a colorful splash as you drive or walk by.

If you would like to become involved in this program, please call 870-500-0303. We would like to evolve this further than libraries and maybe even start a kids book club. Who knows where this will lead?

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