Our Street Library in New Orleans

This article is adapted from an update sent out as part of our Adopt a Street Library program. Thank you to everyone who has supported street library in New Orleans – we really appreciate your help to make all of this possible!

We wanted to tell you a little bit about how things have been going lately with our new Touro Street library in the 7th ward. This time it is Salma Mosha, Salehe Seif, and Maria Sandvik who are going to share some news of the new Street Library that started on June 5th. Our goal with this new Street Library is to reach out to other children and their families who didn’t know about or attend the Saturday Street Library we were already doing.

Fortunately, we had a successful start! Children attend every Wednesday, with the number of participants increasing from 5 or 6 children the first weeks to 16-18 most recently. Also, parents join us from time to time, to encourage their children to stay calm and fully participate in the activities.  Street Library’s unique projects continue to entice and gather children from different backgrounds in a peaceful and joyful setting. As children come regularly, they use this opportunity to share their experiences, knowledge, and talents. They also learn new skills and get to know and build friendships with other children in the neighborhood.

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Every street library includes an art project that brings out the children’s creativity

What we hear from children and adults about Street Library:

Very often when we first arrive and are setting up for Street Library, children ask what we are going to do today after reading. This shows how much they love the activities that we do with them.

Allison, 8 years old told Salma: ”You know the pom-pom I made at Street Library? My mom likes it a lot. She took it to hang in her room.

This comment helped Salma understand how parents notice what the children are doing at Street Library. It helps us think of what other types of activities to prepare to do with the children: artwork or crafts their parents can appreciate and find beautiful in their houses. At the same time, what Allison’s mom does to value the projects and work she brings home is very important to encourage her daughter to create more. This is what we hope and look for from all parents, the ways they show appreciation for the work and accomplishments of their children at Street Library. The week after Allison brought this decoration home, her older sister started coming regularly to Street Library. These two sisters are now among the children who come weekly to Street Library and are the first to ask, “What are we going to make today?”

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Adults in the community help work with the children as much as possible
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The street library on Touro street is our newest in New Orleans and part of our growing presence in the 7th ward neighborhood

Ms. Josie and Mr. Joseph live across the street from where Street Library is held each week. They were the first people to welcome the idea of a Street Library on their block and helped Salehe, Salma, and Maria reach out to other parents and grandparents nearby. It was exciting to arrive for the first Street Library and find Ms. Josie out under the tree with a blanket laid out to sit on, a table for cold drinks, and ready to go invite children and parents up and down the block. She took the lead with Maria and Salma to tell the adults who we are and what Street Library is going to be like. Ms. Josie has a great way to describe Street Library, she told a mom walking by with her son after school once, “Let him go to Street Library. It’s good for him to learn something there, and he’s going to have fun too!”

During that first Street Library Ms. Josie also sat on the blankets to read with her godson, to encourage him to join and to give an example to the others of how it was okay to sit and use the books. Even on days when she is across the street on her front stoop, she watches what is happening and often yells over to the children to, “pay attention, now, pay attention!

This involvement and concern from parents and families for what is going on in the neighborhood is very important. It is exciting and interesting for us when parents accompany their children to Street Library or help us facilitate the activity with other children. These efforts parents and neighbors make more and more often increase our morale and motivation to continue reaching out to children and families we do not yet know through Street Library.

Thanks again! We really appreciate your help to make all of this possible!