Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Library Week 2014: The Inspiring Messages From The Lorax

Every child has a favorite book that they will enjoy hearing over and over again.  Those who have the pleasure of  reading the "favorite" book repeatedly have often wondered what is it about the book that lures them back.  For Alex Pereira, a real estate developer in Detroit, Michigan, his favorite was Dr. Suess' The Lorax.  Not a bad choice.  No one questions why because the good Dr.'s work has stood the test of children's critical reviews.  Why bring up one real estate developer's favorite book? It is what inspired him from that book he loved so many yard ago that is of interest.  Take a walk down Trumball and Warren area  to see Pereira's latest development in a neighborhood that is need of revitalization.   He purchased the abandoned home at 4759 Trumbull, fixed it up and made it into a tribute to The Lorax.  It's not only eye catching, it's amazing. When first learning about this house in the middle of Detroit, the thought came to mind that this proof positive that children, reading and libraries are a powerful combination.  Perhaps that was not his true intent in resting the hues in the is way but from a librarian's point of view,  this is the message to gain from this man's work.

Children's librarians have always championed the rights of children to have access to books.  It is for this reason, that pushing for funding for children's collection in public and school libraries is critically important to the educational growth of children. The strongest argument to supper this is that children who learn to love reading at an early age become life long learners.  An added icing on the cake is that they are more successful in schools than their peers who don't read often.  Which leads to the conclusion that every child should have access to a library.  If this is not feasible than at least have the library come to them by way of a bookmobile or school visits.  When administrators and public officials wring their hands and say that the costs of reaching out to young readers is too expensive. The right response is that not investing in them now, the costs will be staggering once these children are older.  

Detroit is one of many cities in the United States, whose public library system has been through some tough times and had to make some very tough calls.  Some of the decisions were understandable while others not so much.  Case in point, The Mark Twain library has been closed for years.  From photos taken recently the interior looks like a library graveyard   It is very disheartening because this once beautiful building stood as a landmark of the neighborhood.  In short it was a thriving library serving it's community well.  What happened?  Budget cuts for one.  Secondly, too many turned their backs and gave up on neighborhood libraries.  Siting that the internet and poor funding were the cause of library closing.  What a mistake!  The reading scores of the children in the local public schools are enough to prove that every opportunity for a child to learn to read has been taken away from them.  It would have been much better for the children of the neighborhood to have a place to go to after school, such as the library and get lost in a book.   Librarians are not the only one who believe this, parents did as well.  Yet the buildings were shut down and doors were locked.

The Lorax House in Detroit should give librarians and advocates hope and the spark need to seize on the opportunity to support their libraries.   The quote from the book that is painted on a mural outside the house is simple and speaks volumes about caring about the community.  It's simply, Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." National Library Week reminds everyone librarian,  local leaders and patrons alike that it is up to them to help support and speak up for libraries.   One man's tribute to his favorite childhood book sends a stirring message that one person and one book can make a difference.  Which brings it full circle to the idea that  the effect of three power combinations of young minds, books and libraries is nothing to be taken lightly.  No one never knows how books can stir one to action. No one can ever be certain the lasting impact one story has on a child.   One thing for sure, it can lead to something wonderful and  out of this world.

To view the Lorax House and The Mark Twain Library please click on the links below.

mark twain public library detroit

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