EVART — Want to read a book? Share a book? Borrow a book?

To encourage reading to children and adults, the Evart Reads initiative kicked off a portion of its community program — a grand opening of the first Little Free Library program on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at The Depot in Evart.

The project aims to get books into the hands of children and adults, by having books available for all ages to borrow and share with locations throughout Evart, with the goal of expanding reading in the community.

Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Superintendent Curt Finch spoke to about 60 children and adults the goals of the Evart Reads initiative.

“Successful education requires the ability to read, especially the ability to read on grade level by third grade,” he said. “If students don’t get on step by the third grade, the research says they will get exponentially behind as they go through school without major intervention.”

Finch explained the ISD is supporting the important initiative by committing $45,000 to the program as seed money to help with the three separate facets:

  • Utilizing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to get books in the hands of children from birth to age 5;
  • develop a reading program for early elementary students built on community volunteers to read and mentor students in school; and
  • providing books at area business for age-level books for children to have and the Little Free Library scattered throughout Evart.

The ISD superintendent praised Evart Reads Coordinator Jenny Rounds for getting the initiative moving in the right direction.

“We’re so happy with what she has been able to do here,” he said. “The Little Libraries is a great and we’re going to grab it, take it and run with this program.

Finch also praised Evart Public Schools industrial arts teacher Jim Misner, as students helped construct the Little Libraries.

Misner recognized middle school students Ryenn Baumgardner, Gracie Dieson and Korey Clark for their work on the first Little Library

Rounds thanked community and business organizations for coming together to get the initiative started

“The libraries may be small, but are so big in getting people excited about reading,” she said. “These books are to use, to talk with others about and share.”

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Evart’s Woman’s Club sponsored the first Little Free Library.

Current club president Denise Custer said club decided to become the sponsor because of its continued outreach for the community and the school.

Past president Terese Whitten said that more than a century ago, the club was instrumental in creating the first library in the area.

“That first library was started with a traveling trunk,” she said. “That was a long time ago.”

“It’s a great fit for the club to do this,” Custer added. “It makes perfect sense for us.”

For more information about the Evart Reads initiative, visit evartreads.org.