Pop-Up Library Brings Summer Reading to Jamaica Block

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on August 22, 2013 12:24pm 

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 Portable reading room provides books and games for kids.
Pop-Up Library Brings Summer Reading to Jamaica Block
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QUEENS — A pop-up library, which has been traveling around the five boroughs this summer, made a stop in Jamaica for the day on Wednesday.

A portable bookcase containing a few hundreds books, including fairytales and other favorites like "Pancho Rabit and the Coyote" as well as science books for kids like "Dinosaur Babies," was a welcome addition to the block on Shore Avenue, between Remington and Pinegrove streets.

“I read some stories about animals, how they live and how they find food,” said Ashley Roman, 11, who lives on Shore Avenue, and came to the portable library with her two sisters. "It was very interesting."

Among the books provided by the portable library, were also volumes donated by the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the New York Hall of Science.

The reading room comes with portable benches and a number of games, including chess and wooden puzzles.

The Uni Project, which transforms various urban spaces, including public plazas, parks and city blocks, into a public reading room and venue for learning, came to the Jamaica block second time this summer.

The block is part of the official New York City Play Street Program, which temporarily closes streets to traffic to provide kids with space to play sports and have fun.

Around 50 kids come to Shore Avenue every Wednesday during the summertime to play basketball, practice their skills with hula hoops and to skip rope, according to organizers.

Kids receive bright yellow t-shirts and get free lunch made with ingredients from a local community garden run by the Dunton Block and Civic Association, which launched the Play Streets program on the block for the first time this year.

Sharon Smith, the association's founder, said the mini-library was popular when it came to the neighborhood in July and it was important to give local kids an extra chance to read free books during the summer. There is no bookstore in the area and the nearest library is more than a dozen blocks away, on Sutphin Boulevard and 118th Ave.

“The library is very cool,” said Jessica Bethea, 30, who came to the Play Street with her two sons, Amir, 3, and Jalen, 1. “I can read books to my kids and we can play together while they are learning.”

The idea of a portable reading room started about two years ago and is gaining popularity. “The demand has been so great that we ran out of budget,” said Sam Davol, who runs the project with his wife Leslie.

This summer, the group has brought pop-up libraries to about 30 locations, including in Harlem, Jackson Heights, Morrisania in the Bronx, and Brownsville in Brooklyn. The organization is hoping to make the portable library available on twice as many days next year.

The Uni Project’s next event will be held on Sept. 14. at Corona Plaza, which is a frequent location for the group's pop-up reading room.

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