As the local point of contact for the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, the Cobb Collaborative works to improve third-grade reading levels in Cobb County. Data reveals children who read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to graduate from high school — paving the way to higher education, better employment opportunities and improved health outcomes. Driven by the motivation of increasing access to books to improve reading achievement, the collaborative set a goal of installing 21 Little Free Libraries across Cobb County in 2021. In December, this goal was achieved with the installation of Little Free Libraries at McCall Primary School, Argyle Elementary School and Cumberland Community Church.
“Research tells us that starting from birth, frequent and interactive book reading is associated with cognitive and language development,” said Cobb Collaborative Executive Director Irene Barton. “One of the most successful ways to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase access to books, especially at home and in their native language. We are dedicated to the process of making that happen in our community.”
Collectively, the 21 Little Free Libraries are placed in many areas across Cobb County, including schools, apartment complexes, churches and early learning centers.
“We are very excited at Green Acres to have our new Little Free Library! Our community has a need, and we have wanted to do this for several years” said Green Acres Elementary School Principal Ashley Mize. “Many of our students live within walking distance to the school so it is perfect for the students to access after school and on the weekends.”
Susan Ciavolino, who hosts The Bee Library, a Little Free Library at her home in Smyrna, said she’s thankful to Cobb Collaborative and Irene Barton for being a part and bringing other community members along in this initiative.
The “21 in 2021” Little Free Library initiative was a quintessential collaborative effort, with support from partners including Cobb County School District, Marietta City Schools, United Way of Greater Atlanta Northwest Region, American Opportunity Foundation, Scout troops, businesses, civic associations and Greystone Power Operation Roundup. Additionally, countless supporters donated new and gently used books to help fill and maintain the Little Free Libraries.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization dedicated to putting books in the hands of children and adults in communities around the world. These book-sharing boxes remove barriers to book access by being available seven days a week, 24 hours a day with free accessibility. They operate under the “Take One, Leave One” theory, which encourages readers to not only take a book, but to leave one for others when possible. To find out where Little Free Libraries are located in your area, visit littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap. For those interested in sponsoring or hosting a Little Free Library in 2022, email Irene Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cobb Collaborative is a membership of nonprofit organizations, local government, businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, professional organizations, associations, and citizens who share ideas, expertise and resources to meet the needs of Cobb County and its citizens.