Books for Kids brings the library to Chicago families

For the more than 120 kids at the Carole Robertson Center in North Lawndale, getting to the library was a difficult undertaking. That is, until the library came to them.

This month, Books for Kids is opening a new children’s library at the center, located on Ogden Avenue. The library isn’t part of the Chicago Public Library system, but instead was built by the nonprofit organization Books for Kids, with funding from the hotel chain Homewood Suites.

“The idea is to put the library where the kids spend their day. The Chicago one is in a Headstart,”says Shawna Doster, executive director of Books for Kids. “They’re a place of safety and respite for these children who often live in very dismal circumstances.”

This is the first Books for Kids opening in the Chicago area, and the site was chosen because there’s limited access to a library, Doster says.

The lending library was built in a room in the center, and was designed by a New York City set design firm. It is filled with wooden shelves and furniture, and also includes a multicultural puppet theater and a child-sized cabin.

“The idea is to bring books to life and make children fall in love with them as well,” Doster says.

Teachers and staff at the Robertson Center will staff the library, with help from community volunteers and local Homewood employee volunteers. Initially, the library only will be open for students at the center, but eventually they hope to host family literacy events for the community, Doster says.

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