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Germantown freshmen build a slew of 'Little Free Libraries'

Germantown High School freshmen in the English honors class made free little libraries as part of a school project. The libraries will be dispersed to all schools in the Germantown School District.

Germantown High School freshmen in the English honors class made free little libraries as part of a school project. The libraries will be dispersed to all schools in the Germantown School District.

Jan. 28, 2013

Germantown - What do the Green Bay Packers, the White House and the World Atlas have in common? They are all themes of little free libraries made by high school freshmen who are in the English Honors course.

The Little Free Library is a not-for-profit reading initiative that has started to spread throughout Wisconsin. A little library is usually handmade and stationed outside of a home, church or park. It is filled with used books that people can come and take. Later on they can either return the books or place different books inside.

Germantown High School got permission to use the trademark name of Little Free Library and sent the students on a reading mission of their own.

About 50 honor students broken up into groups of seven ran with the idea, building a slew of mini-libraries that will be set up in every school in the Germantown School District, said English Honors Teacher Cassandra Hanson, who spearheaded the project with the school's Instructional Media Specialist Jeff Schreiber. These will be set up as a "library within a library," she said.

In addition, one little library will be sent to a new school being built in Uganda. Another will be auctioned off at the Germantown Community Scholarship Fund's 28th annual Dinner and Auction on Feb. 7.

"It's a way to foster the love of reading in a community, so we do independent reading projects in here every quarter that is kind of outside the academic stuff," Hanson said.

In her English classes, Hanson traditionally includes a project-based assessment in an effort to have students work together and think outside of the box.

"It encourages students, especially in a small group, to work in a collaborative environment and communicate with their peers and learn how to manage time outside of the classroom," she said. "There's also a great amount of creativity to it as well."

Hanson said the students took ownership of their projects, including donating their own books, finding the materials and coming up with a creative theme.

Not only did the high school students receive a hands-on lesson, the elementary students will receive a message on the importance of reading.

"Having our students use their critical thinking skills to develop these resources is a great source of pride," Superintendent Susan Borden said. "We emphasize the importance of reading as a foundational skill and it is fabulous to see that our high school students are sharing this message with our elementary students. They are making reading a strong part of our culture, which will lead to success for every student."

For information on the Free Little Library initiative, visit littlefreelibrary.org.

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