WEST POINT — Children in the city have a new library, but it’s a little smaller than normal.
The brightly painted newspaper box displaying scenes from some of the iconic children’s books by Dr. Seuss sat inside the West Point Youth Center on Tuesday. Moments after Troup High School teacher Amber McWhorter stocked it with books, eager children swamped it as they picked out new reading materials to take home.
The newly registered Little Free Library is the first in West Point. The Little Free Library formula is “take a book, leave a book,” whether replacing the same book or a different title, allowing for an ongoing exchange. There is no cost and no registration or check out required.
“This is fantastic, because a lot of these children do not have access to books at home because of transportation,” said Monica Barber, community development specialist for the city of West Point, who oversees the youth center. “There’s Hawkes Library, but children on this side of the bridge have to really travel if they’re walking, and there are issues with crossing busy streets.”
The youth center is located at 1128 O.G. Skinner Drive, across the Chattahoochee River from the city’s only library, Hawkes. The distance between the two is a little more than a mile, but a single bridge that is part of U.S. Highway 29 is the only way to cross the river.
Barber said a lot of children also come to the center sign up for recreation, so having the little library will draw more to pick up books.
McWhorter, who is an English teacher, said the THS Student Council made literacy an initiative this year and worked to help promote it throughout the community. They helped set up some Little Free Library sites, of which there are several in LaGrange placed by different groups, and council members decided to start doing some themselves.
“The art club painted the box and student council stocked it with books and paid for it be registered with the Little Free Library company,” McWhorter said.
Lynn Kendall, Troup High coach, assistant athletic director and American government teacher, credited McWhorter for the literacy push, including book drives at THS and spearheading the move to get the little library. He assisted in finding the newspaper box, donated by the Valley Times-News in Lanett, Alabama, and coordinated getting the little library placed.
“As a teacher and coach, I know how valuable books are,” he said. “… By the time they get to our level (high school), they need to have those (English language arts) skills in place.”
“Research shows that the earlier children develop language and reading skills, the better off they’ll be,” she said.
The West Point site was chosen for the Little Fee Library because students from the city attend Troup High School and there were none of sites in West Point, McWhorter said. She said they are planning to place one in Hogansville.
“I just want to say how grateful we are to Mrs. McWhorter and Troup High School, and appreciate everyone at THS for thinking of us,” Barber said of receiving the little library.
More information about the Little Free Library project and locations may be found at https://littlefreelibrary.org.
Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.