Education

South Modesto gets Little Free Library thanks to Eagle Scout project

South Modesto Gets Little Free Library Box

Eagle Scout candidate Calvin Flores-Sullivan and friends built a Little Free Library box, filled it with150 donated children's books in front of the Robertson Road Parent Education Center. (Nan Austiin/naustin@modbee.com)
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Eagle Scout candidate Calvin Flores-Sullivan and friends built a Little Free Library box, filled it with150 donated children's books in front of the Robertson Road Parent Education Center. (Nan Austiin/naustin@modbee.com)

A Little Free Library now stands in front of the Robertson Road Parent Education Center, offering a wide selection of children’s books for borrowers to take out and trade back at will.

“It was a chance to give children in a community that doesn’t have books a chance to read,” said Calvin Flores-Sullivan, 17, who provided the library to the south Modesto neighborhood as his Eagle Scout service project.

The small blue cabinet and its initial load of 150 donated books opened Wednesday. A cluster of the Beyer High senior’s family, friends and fellow Boy Scouts filled the shelves, pulling the small volumes out of bags, flipping through favorites.

“They have Magic Tree House. It’s an excellent series,” said Jeff Fu.

“Is this ‘Are You My Mother?’ It’s in Spanish,” said Claireeen Chin, holding up “¿Eres Mi Mama?” by P.D. Eastman with its familiar drawings of the baby bird’s quest.

“Peter Pan,” “Babar,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and other best-sellers were among the books heaped into the three deep shelves that organizers expect to empty quickly.

“People can also donate books in here,” said Scout leader Rick Underwood. The city of Modesto will maintain the box, he said, but help will be needed to keep it supplied.

“Ideally, you take a book and leave a book. But to have a book of your own, that’s to be rich,” added fellow leader Kathleen Chin.

It’s a chance for children who really don’t have a chance to read a book or get a book to be able to read at home.

Calvin Flores-Sullivan

The parent education center sits between Robertson Road Park and Robertson Road Elementary, where 77 percent of students speak a different language at home and 98 percent qualify for free lunches. Studies show most poor families have no children’s books in their homes.

“Reading is fundamental,” Flores-Sullivan said. He and friends built the box, about 2 feet by 3 feet and 2 feet deep.

“They did a lot of things they’d never done before. They put a post in. They painted it from the outside in, so they had paint all up their arms when they were done,” Underwood said with a grin.

The box is the second done by the Scouts. Another sits outside Doctors Hospital of Manteca, joining an estimated 36,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. There are 11 registered in Modesto, only one west of Highway 99.

The movement started in 2009, when a Wisconsin man built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher, and installed it in his front yard.

“To me, having a public library represents the best of humanity and the richness of community life. But these free little libraries take it a step further,” Chin said.

Nan Austin: 209-578-2339, @NanAustin

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