For many Rhode Island students, the end of the year was full of lost chances and broken traditions. In hopes of making her son's fifth-grade graduation special, Monica Mays wanted to continue the tradition of giving a class gift to
For many Rhode Island students, the end of the year was full of lost chances and broken traditions.
In hopes of making her son’s fifth-grade graduation special, Monica Mays wanted to continue the tradition of giving a class gift to Garden City Elementry School. Monica was determined to keep this tradition alive during these troubling times.
Garden City Elementary school is one of the five schools targeted for significant improvements as part of a $147 million bond question set to go before voters this November. Uncertain if the bond will pass or not – and, as a result, whether the school will undergo major renovations – Monica ruled out a permanent, fixed structure as part of the gift.
She found inspiration, though, while taking a stroll in the Glen Hills area, where she spotted a box serving as a free library for passers-by. That’s when the idea came rushing back to her, for she has been wanting to make one for years.
She ran the idea of a free library by the fifth-grade class, and they were ecstatic about the plan. Using a newspaper vending box donated by the Cranston Herald and Warwick Beacon, Monica and her husband, Brian Mays, are working on cleaning it up, adding a roof, and a dog house.
The school’s mascot is a bulldog, so they wanted to incorporate the school spirit. They are looking forward to finally presenting their library and doghouse combination to the school in the following weeks.
They want to dedicate the gift to the fifth-grade teachers Diane Hill and Roderick DaSilva, as well as Principal Bryan Byerlee and school librarian Meredith Moore.
Wyatt Mays, Monica’s son, said: “Each teacher I’ve had through the years has helped me tremendously.” He also mentioned DaSilva, who “has gotten me ready for middle school very much.”
The library is not only for the students but for the neighborhood. Monica said, noting: “This is a big walking neighborhood.”
The library will receive attention from students, walkers, and the occasional dog. It will contain books for people of all ages and from a range of genres, including science fiction, fantasy and history.
When asked what she would like to see in the library, Moore said: “I guess stuff that I know the kids love, like graphic novels and science books. Sports and pets are popular, although I'd probably grab any of those donations for the school library! Funny books are always in demand. Really anything goes, though, as long as it’s not moldy or falling apart.”
At the dedication, each graduating fifth-grader will be asked to bring a book to put in the box to start the library’s collection. The books will be supplied by donations and the school’s library. Wyatt already has his booked picked out – “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds.
“One way we’ll keep the new library box stocked is by adding donations that people make to the library that I don’t end up adding to the collection for whatever reason,” Meredith said. “I’ve gotten boxes and boxes of [books] this summer from families; I was delivering them to kids’ houses during distance learning. There are a ton all over my apartment and the back seat of my car. So that can get us started.”
The library box will rely on the honor system when it comes to borrowing books. The books are free, and students are allowed to keep them as well as place books in the box to give away.
The library box will also be officially registered with the nonprofit Little Free Library organization. This will help the library box be located by others. More information about the organization, and a map of registered library boxes, can be found at littlefreelibrary.org.
The goal of the gift is to be a resource for the community and for students and foster their love of learning as well as getting them to put away the video games and enjoy a good book. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.