‘Little Free Libraries’ Making Big Literacy Impact Through ‘Groomed For Literacy’ Collective With HCDE Adult Learners and City Of Houston Public Library

ABOVE: (left) Harris County Department of Education teacher Clifton Hypolite helps adult learner Leonardo Cordova with finishing touches on a prototype “little library” which will hold free age-appropriate books.

Fifty little libraries, which could make a big literacy impact in needy children’s lives, were painted by adult learners enrolled in workforce development classes at Harris County Department of Education and other volunteers this past Friday, April 7.

The collaborative program created by the Houston Public Library, in partnership with Put It In A Book Foundation called “Groomed for Literacy,” provides the wooden little libraries filled with books to barber shops in targeted areas with low-literacy, and low-income youth who have low access to quality books.

The little free libraries feature a barber shop storefront décor complete with red-white-and-blue barber poles. The little free libraries were donated by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Little Free Library organization. Other partners in the project include the Friends of the Houston Public Library, City of Houston Health Department – My Brother’s Keeper, Hott Blocc Barbershop (pilot location) and Franklin Institute.

“Our adult education students involved with this project can connect with this cause to promote literacy among youth as many of them return to school to better themselves,” said Harris County School Superintendent James Colbert, Jr. “They see the value in this program and are offering to volunteer their time to encourage youth to read.”

This past fall, students in an adult education workforce development class helped to construct the little free libraries at the launch event announcing the program. After painting is completed, the Houston Public Library will work with local barber shops to implement the program. Service areas include Fifth Ward, Third Ward, East Little York, Independence Heights, Clinton Park, Sharpstown, Gulfgate, Hobby and several dozen additional neighborhoods.

Several of the students putting finishing touches on the little free libraries are enrolled in a construction class through HCDE. The basic construction and safety skills class is called Core Curriculum Certification.

Student Leonardo Cordova took the class with a number of other employees laid off from General Electric last December.

“It’s a good feeling to help other people,” said Cordova. “I look forward to volunteering to get the job done.”

Harris County Department of Education Adult Education provides opportunity for adult learners to enroll in GED or English as a second language classes while also preparing them for new careers in the construction industry. For more information about classes, go to www.hcde-texas.org/adulteducation.