Meadow Elementary School’s Future Problem Solvers club decided to tackle a different type of issue this year: literacy.
The fourth and fifth graders were inspired by their own love of reading and the adventures they go on through their books. According to the research conducted by this group of ‘bibliophiles,’ a book-filled home offers benefits that go beyond simply reading words off a page. Children who have access to a variety of books are exposed to various genres of literature, will develop strong vocabulary and early skills in literature, and will expand their knowledge on countless subjects.
To help spark a passion for reading amongst the rest of the Baldwin community, the Meadow booklovers decided to launch Project B.A.L.D.W.I.N., or Books Available for Lending and Distributing Within our Ideal Networks, with the help of parents, teachers, and fellow students. The unique lending library program was recently recognized in the New York State Future Problem Solvers competition, where Meadow placed first in their category. They went on to compete at the next level, the Future Problem Solving Program International competition, in June.
“We are proud that this group of students were able to solve a problem and leave a legacy for their school,” said their club advisors, Emily Clark and Pria Das, who are also teachers at Meadow Elementary School.
Project B.A.L.D.W.I.N. is more than just another free book exchange or book sharing community library program, but rather, a collaborative and innovative initiative entirely student produced.
The Meadow Future Problem Solvers developed an action plan to upkeep both lending libraries. They first worked with the PTA to collect books on top of the 1,000 that the thirteen club members already donated. To create the physical structures to house the books, the Meadow students called on the carpentry skills of the Baldwin High School woodworking class, who, under the direction of their teacher Scott Peritz, constructed two different book holders—one for the front of Meadow Elementary School and one at the pre-school program on Milburn Avenue.
To make their lending libraries interactive as well as distinctive, the Meadow students built a website, accessible through the QR code located on each book holder, so current and future students have the option to listen to their favorite teachers read books aloud. Listening to read-alouds has also been proven to enhance children’s literacy skills. In addition, Project B.A.L.D.W.I.N. has a Facebook page so families can share about their visit and tag the lending library in their social media post.
While traditional libraries require that books be returned, for those who fall in love with their story, students have the option of keeping the book from Meadow’s lending library.
Community members who are interested in free books can also find Meadow’s library on LittleFreeLibrary.org—a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding book access and building community through library boxes across the world.
Meadow Elementary School’s Project B.A.L.D.W.I.N. book holder was officially unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The book holders are solidly crafted miniature blue and white houses to help withstand the harsh winter weather. After a few words from representatives of the Future Problem Solvers, the blue ribbon was cut, and all Meadow students were invited to fill Baldwin’s new lending library.
“I am so proud of our Future Problem Solvers and their accomplishments this year,” said Yolanda Martin, principal of Meadow Elementary School. “Their ability to exude compassion, care and concern to solve real life problems that affect the youth is to be commended. This year, they led in the driver’s seat of their learning leading as pioneers, collaborators and innovators to make sure that their lending library became a reality with the guidance of their Future Problem Solvers facilitators. Meadow is well on the way to make ‘Baldwin 2035’ a reality.”
Meadow students in Future Problem Solvers Club were Stori Byfield, Khloe Cadet, Peyton Crawford, Jenna Engelhardt, Lillian Lugo, Madison Nunez, Selena Rampath, Madison Altidor, Cerai Ashby, Mia Hayes, Summer James, Laila McGeachy, and Melanie Victor.
— Ben Fiebert