Chattering voices of 60 children and 40 adults filled Carl Levin Park Wednesday as Mayor Pro Tem Rob Robinson proclaimed “Little Free Library Day” and helped cut the ribbon on the first Little Free Library in Harker Heights.

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., built the first Little Free Library.

“There are now Little Free Libraries in 28 states and six countries,” Robinson said.

Cindy Simerly, chief of marketing for Military Child Education Coalition, was excited to bring the opportunity to Harker Heights.

“MCEC worked with the Parks and Recreation Department, the Harker Heights Public Library and the Friends of the Library to bring this to the community,” Simerly said. “The whole concept is that you can take a book, keep it or return it. It’s your choice. We have one designed for adults and one for children.”

Lisa Youngblood, director of the Stewart C. Meyer Library, got the children off to a happy start by singing a song and involving the parents with clapping and waving. She said the key to building good readers is having a variety of books available to choose from.

“The books today are donations from MCEC and Friends of the Harker Heights Public Library,” Youngblood said. “However, in the future the content will change based on what is donated and left by those who use the Little Free Library. Anyone can take a book out and anyone can put a book in.”

Keri Jones and her daughter, Sydney, came out to enjoy the goldfish crackers and story time and to take home a book.

“I’m a teacher, so anytime we can combine nature and education we are there,” she said. “I like the selection of books they have out here. There’s a variety of authors from around the world.

“We are traveling to Okinawa, Japan, in a few weeks and I plan on bringing boxes of books up here as we prepare to travel.”

Judy Glennon, MCEC director of parent programs, spoke at length about the benefits of reading to children.

“Even before a child is born and continuing after birth, reading to your child helps develop their brain,” she said. “Literacy is the most important skill in my opinion, even more important than math. As parents bring their children to the park, if they need to have one child take a break from the playground, now they have the option to get a book, read and calm down.”

For more information or to donate books, go to the Stewart C. Meyer Library, 400 Indian Trail, Harker Heights, the Military Child Education Coalition, 909 Mountain Lion Circle, Harker Heights, or call 254-953-5491.

Herald/ Kathryn Leisinger

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