STAMFORD — The Rowayton Library this week is running a children’s book drive to benefit young students in New Orleans.
The library announced last week that is looking for 250 gently used children’s books to donate to the Santa’s Book Store Project in the Crescent City. Approximately twice as many books had made their way to the library within the first two days of the drive, according to Director Cynthia Johnson, who said she is hopeful patrons will continue to donate through the last day of the drive on Wednesday.
“I sent out an email on Wednesday, and I already have seven cartons filled with books - probably about 500 books - and they’re still coming in,” Johnson said Monday morning.
The books will be sent to two public charter schools in New Orleans at the beginning of next week, Johnson said. There they will be incorporated in Santa’s Book Store, a program in which about 200 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students learn about empathy, money and giving.
Students in the participating schools pick the name of one of their classmates out of a hat, before shopping through the selection of donated books for a gift to give their friend. During the weeks-long project, students set up and man the store; they are also given play money to use for transactions to teach them about buying and selling.
“During the first week in December the students get ’paid’ for doing good deeds around the classroom,” said Lisa Schlakman, a Rowayton resident who works in New Orleans and brought the project to the library. The students then use their symbolic money to purchase books for the classmate they’re responsible for.
“We do a lot about thinking of other people and what they might like, because otherwise a little girl who loves princesses will buy a princess book for a boy who liked sharks and trucks. So it’s a great lesson in empathy,” Schlakman said.
In addition to learning how to man a store and go through transactions, it also provides children with books, which are a limited resource for many of the students, said Schlakman.
“These are kids who some of them don’t have any books at home at all, so this is a big deal,” she said.
Schlakman said the extra books that have already been collected will be distributed to other classes in New Orleans for another round of the project near Valentines Day.
“It’s so thrilling to give these books to kindergarten kids some place where they’ll be appreciated,” Schlakman said.
This is the second book drive the library has hosted this year to send books down to New Orleans, according to Johnson. In August, Rowayton readers shipped 4,000 books to New Orleans for another project, she said.
Donations can be dropped off at the Rowayton Library, 33 Highland Ave., Rowayton.
Staff writer Maggie Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-964-2229.