Sixth grade teacher Molly Van Delinder from Wayland is hoping her love of reading will spread to others.
And in the process introduce them to Black authors and culture “so that we can come together during this divisive time,” she said.
She erected four book boxes in Dansville, Wayland, Cohocton and Avoca as a way to encourage reading and spread diversity in the community.
“I just feel like as a white woman in the middle of nowhere, there had to be something that I could do. My love of reading lead me to do the book boxes,” said Van Delinder.
With the help of her husband she built book boxes. She said he built them, while she designed them with the color red in mind.
“The boxes are all red. Part of it was to make them visible. They are pretty and I also wanted to make them look like a little school house,” Van Delinder said.
Inside the boxes she said is a lot of knowledge for both young and old readers. All of the book have been written by Black authors.
“Living in the country and seeing some injustices, along with some racism I was wondering what I could do,” said Van Delinder.
“I just figured it was a small thing that we could do to be hearing culturally diverse stories. It could also help to get our eyes open to other ways of life and to see what other people have gone through. I wanted to make sure that there was variety of books for people,” said Van Delinder.
The boxes are unlocked and free for anyone to take a book.
“I just feel like it is so important to get a little glimpse of the world a little further outside of the words to be empathetic to our neighbors; to have a love of all things diverse. I hope this will help people to fall in love with different types of reading because as kids grow up that is so important,” said Van Delinder.
All of the books are either new or in good condition. To make sure the boxes remain stocked Van Delinder said she checks them once a week.
“All ages can get the books. They have picture books all the way up to books for adult readers,” said Van Delinder.
Money to pay for the books, she said, has been through donations, including a few books received from unexpected sources.
“One of my favorite authors, who happens to be Black actually sent 14 books of her own,” said Van Delinder.
So far she says the feedback on her book box campaign as been positive.
She is also hoping the project will encourage those in the undeserved communities to pick up a book and start reading more.
“At the public libraries they have some but they have so much more in the electronic system and some people who do not have a lot of money may not have access to the e-book systems,” said Van Delinder.
Encouraging reading and social awareness to people of all ages is her goal.
“I have just always been very proud of where we live but we don’t get to experience too much diversity,” said Van Delinder. “It is a lifelong journey to be a reader and a socially conscious citizen.”