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Colorful Little Free Library unveiled at I PROMISE Village in honor of Read Across America Day

WKYC Studios spearheaded the literacy project, to help make reading irresistible for LeBron James Family Foundation students and their families

AKRON, Ohio — Tuesday was a big day for Mariya, a fourth-grader at the I PROMISE School.

It was her first day as the official steward of a brand new Little Free Library at the I PROMISE Village in Akron. 

She and her family live at the I PROMISE Village, which provides housing and support for families enrolled in the LeBron James Family Foundation’s programs. 

Mariya loves books, so she’s the perfect person to be in charge of this special gift unveiled on Read Across America Day. Her duties will include keeping the little book-box filled at all times and encouraging her neighbors in the apartment complex to use it frequently.

There were many special moments during the unveiling ceremony. The very first books to go into the library were some of LeBron’s personal favorites, including “The Alchemist” and “The Giving Tree”.

Mariya then placed more inaugural books into the library, including dozens of multicultural selections from the Little Free Library organization’s Read in Color initiative. 

Excitedly she did her first TV interview for 3News, saying she loves to read because it sparks her imagination.

WKYC Studios is a partner of the LeBron James Family Foundation and this is a fun project we have been planning for months, to promote the joy of reading to children and their families living at the Village. 

Special thanks to the JOANN fabric and craft company for creating the colorful design of the library, and also for donating loads of books and craft kits to help fill it.

Shauntina Lilly, manager of PR, Diversity and Inclusion for JOANN stores, attended Tuesday’s opening ceremony and said it was a joy to help bring the idea to life. “We have an in-house craft and content team and they put together a paint-by-numbers design” which the Village families then used as a blueprint to paint the library themselves, she explained.

Having the residents serve as the artists helped them feel engaged and involved with the literacy project. And that was the main goal, to build excitement among Village families for Read Across America Day – and also, for reading every day.

LFL Executive Director Greig Metzger said it was an honor to donate the little library and books, and to be a part of the project to inspire and entertain Village families.  “Book access is a key contributor to strong reading skills, academic success and a fulfilling life,” Metzger said. 

Michele Campbell, foundation director, said the Little Free Library is a perfect addition for the Village, a safe space for families that provides life skills, unique resources and enriching programming. It “will keep our kids and families at the Village reading, which we know can open so many doors and possibilities. In everything we do at the Village, we want to engage and inspire our families to dream bigger than they ever thought possible.”

Thanks to a caring community of partners, Mariya now has everything she needs to spread her love of reading to all her neighbors.