As the library at Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem unfolds, I am realizing more and more how creating a library is not only creating a culture of reading, but it is also creating a culture of love, trust and deep support. Each day, I enlist the help of the children of the community. They come in small groups, or on their own, and help me sort through new books, group them into sets, label them and set them on the shelves of their emerging community library. They own the process of creating their own reading environment, they respect it, they love it. All the while, while labeling and sorting, the children share their lives with me and I treasure this time so greatly – the thoughts and insights of children – what could be more wise or pure? Ayliana, my sweet friend pictured below, stayed with me for an hour and a half yesterday, diligently working, happily sharing, sitting with me, side by side. As we worked, we shared our dreams with one another. We talked about things that make us happy, things that inspire us, our hopes and sometimes our fears. I learned she is a fabulous dancer, she loves her family, she is an amazing artist, she prefers love to shouting. We became great friends in the ninety minutes we spent together and realized how many things we have in common. Regardless of age, our dreams and interests are the same. Not only did Ayliana help to prepare her own community library, she also helped remind me once more the importance of listening to a child, of being a friend.
The exciting work unfolding at the Polo Grounds is a collaboration with the amazing organization, LitWorld: www.litworld.org