#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

#PromiseReads and Anthem bring new Little Free Libraries to Central

The Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood is committed to supporting successful educational outcomes for the children of the Central neighborhood. We know that education starts at home, and parents are truly a child’s first teacher. Research shows that the simple presence of books in the home is linked to a child’s educational success.

Promise is proud to have worked with Central residents and partners to establish some of the 11 Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood. These “take a book, leave a book” structures invite residents of all ages to browse a selection of stocked titles and take them home to read.IMG_20181013_121239

As part of the ongoing #PromiseReads initiative, Promise recently presented six new Little Free Libraries to the Central neighborhood, thanks to a generous donation from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. In an October event at the Sterling Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, Promise engagement manager Joe Black spoke to the stewards of the new libraries about what it means to care for and support a Little Free Library.

Stewards all received book donations on behalf of the Kids Book Bank and Cleveland Public Library, as well as a supply from Anthem. Promise Ambassador Gwen Garth, a staple of Central’s art community, plans to fill the library she stewards with crayons, coloring books and additional art supplies for the neighborhood. Felton Thomas, executive director of Cleveland Public Library, and Margaret Bernstein, director of advocacy at WKYC, joined the event to talk about the value of Little Free Libraries in our communities, right alongside the invaluable resource of the public libraries.

The event was broadcast on WKYC. View the clip here.

New Little Free Libraries will be installed or updated in the following locations:

  • Alfred A. Benesch School
  • Boys & Girls Club at King Kennedy
  • Gwen Garth’s Community Garden
  • John’s Church
  • William Patrick Day Early Learning Center

Thank you to those who joined us, as well as to Monica Rudzinski, Sterling branch manager, who welcomed Promise to the library on the first chilly day of fall.




Little Free Libraries Add Activity Fun

You can have fun with the new activity sheets in the Little Free Libraries.

Through a partnership with Octavofest, supported by Art Books Cleveland, the Promise Neighborhood is adding monthly activity sheets in the Little Free Libraries (near Lonnie Burton Splash Park at Outhwaite and Alfred Benesch Elementary.)

Each month, you can pick up an activity sheet for a new project. The first one is how to make an accordion-fold pocket book. Want to do it now? You can find the activity sheet here.

If you like the first project, watch for another soon at the Little Free Library or or pick up the next project (and some of the materials) at the Cleveland Public Library Sterling or Woodland branches. And watch for special events coming throughout this year, including:

Art Exhibit:

Sept. 9 – Cleveland Public Library Woodland Branch, 5806 Woodland Ave.

Oct. 14 – Cleveland Public Library Sterling Branch, 2200 E. 30th St.

Bring your projects to display to friends and family.



Oct. 15 – Cleveland Public Library Sterling Branch, 2200 E. 30th St.

See artists at work. Try out small projects. Ask questions about modifying the projects you’ve made.

Also watch for Weekend Workshops at the Sterling Library, an Art Demonstration at Marion Sterling School Carnival and much more!

Book Bank Makes Deposit at Benesch

FreeBookGiveawayAlfredBenesch031016It’s reading time for Alfred E. Benesch students. Each child received a free book this week from Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank.

The new Cleveland nonprofit donated over 400 books. It was founded and is led by Judy Immerman-Payne. Thanks to Judy and the generous supporters of Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank.

The Promise Neighborhood giveaway at Alfred E. Benesch is an extension of the Little Free Libraries program in Cleveland Central.

Neighbor Donates to the Community

Promise’s Little Free Libraries event on July 16 attracted not only community members and volunteers, but individuals who share an expansive history with the original Friendly Inn Settlement House, even before Promise Neighborhood initiative began in the Central community.

Sheila Shaw was one such person who came out to participate in the Little Free Libraries Event, where volunteers came out to build six little libraries that will be placed throughout the neighborhood. Residents of all ages are encouraged to take a book and read it and keep it, or return that book or another favorite for others to enjoy.

Ms. Shaw donated 15 books and magazines to the event. Among the books she donated, there are poetry books , daily spiritual reading books, history books and some biographies about such important people as Malcolm X , Winnie Mandela and Steven Biko who was a South African freedom fighter/activist in the 1960s and 1970s.

As a teenager Ms. Shaw started a club called the Larkets, which was a group of young women including her that would come together typically on Thursdays to hold meetings to discuss plans of action to improve the community. Each Saturday as a fundraiser, they had a dance and sold hot dogs and soda.

Ms. Shaw also had the opportunity to know singer and song writer Edwin Starr most known for his number one hit “War.” Of Starr, Shaw says “he and his singing group got their springboard back in the 1950’s here at the Friendly Inn.” Starr would participate in the dancing and club socials that the Larkets would host at the Friendly Inn.

The themes that she and her Larket members endeavored to emphasize ranged from how to manage and conduct meetings to saving money.

Ms. Shaw explained that she donated the books because “young people do not know their history. It’s important to know history to know how you got to this point. My family is informed.”

Ms. Shaw describes herself as a lifelong Central resident saying, “I have always lived in the 79th area.” She attended John Hay high school prior to – as she lamented “the schooling of the Central area began to unravel in the 1960’s.” In discussing the decline of the Central area she states that “welfare really killed us as a people.” At the time she was “coming up” there was no welfare and “we did everything ourselves. Welfare was supposed to be a temporary relief to people, not something they live on for the rest of their lives.”

Ms. Shaw has three living children out of a total of four and eight living grandchildren out of a total of ten. She lost two of her grandchildren to a heart-attack and sickle cell anemia. She also lost her daughter from sickle-cell anemia.

When asked how she learned of the little library event she explained that she had gone to the Langston Hughes community center for her nutrition situation where she also received literature about Promise in a bag. She called the number on the pamphlet and she was referred to Sonya Pryor-Jones, Promise director.

Despite the unbearable heat on the day of the event, Ms. Shaw says she was happy to return to where she had begun so many years ago.

– By Nina Kidd

Little Library Build Day

The scorching heat didn’t diminish the great work of Cleveland Job Corps students and staff, the Promise and Friendly Inn Settlement volunteers and everyone else that came out to help bring six new Little Free Libraries for the Promise Neighborhood.

We can’t thank all our partners enough, including Friendly Inn Settlement, Young Audiences Northeast Ohio, A Cultural Exchange, Cleveland Public Library and Ohio Center for the Book, FABLAB, Mc2 Stem, Family Connections, BVU and the volunteers from PNC.