By GRAIG GRAZIOSI
Nine-year-old Lucia Schaab likes books.
She asked her parents to buy them for her. She asked Santa – using his preferred means of communication, the letter – to bring her books for Christmas. And she plans to continue asking for books in the future.
She doesn’t ask for herself. She has plenty of books, and she loves reading them. Instead, Lucia collects books to share her love of reading with children who may not have access to books of their own.
Over two years, Lucia collected 53 books and, after filling a box to its brim with books, was ready to donate them. Her mother, Phyllis Schaab, of Canfield, is a young women’s mentor for the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and a reading tutor at Taft Elementary School.
She suggested the books would be well used at the school, and Lucia agreed.
With the support of her mother, father David and her 13-year-old brother Ty, she brought her box to Taft on Thursday evening and parted ways with the 53 books.
Lucia was recognized for her giving spirit during the Imagination Library family literacy night at the South Side school. The event – hosted by the United Way and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County – brings parents and children to local schools for a night of literacy-focused learning.
During the literacy nights, students gather to read a story with a volunteer from the library. After the story, the students create a craft related to the narrative.
The evening’s craft was centered on Valentine’s Day.
While the kids read their stories and created the crafts, parents join a library representative to talk about best family practices for improving literacy at home.
Samantha Schneider, an early-learning specialist with the library, instructed the parents.
“We focus on giving parents some tools for encouraging reading at home and improving their children’s literacy skills,” Schneider said.
The UW and the public library have facilitated many family literacy nights throughout the area, including three events that drew more than 200 people at elementary schools in Struthers and Boardman.
Country singer Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library as a way to encourage early childhood literacy through the distribution of free books to children up to 5 years old.
To date, more than 1 million children have been registered to receive free books through the program.