As part of Libraries Week I can’t resist sharing with you something a little unusual: Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building by Scot Ritchie (@ScotRitchie).
In this book, marketed primarily for schools (though worthy of a wider readership), five young friends visit different parts of their community and get involved in a variety of fundraising activities to support their local library. As they gather goods for a jumble sale and help sell surplus fruit and veg at the community garden they learn about the people and places that make up their community, including the residents at the local retirement home, the school and the police station. They also experience how playing, learning and coming together with a common purpose helps build a sense of community.
Topics such as shopping locally, donating time and money, keeping the physical environment clean and beautiful and the value of open public spaces are all touched upon. Questions addressed directly to the reader facilitate thinking about our own communities, how we can identify them, participate in them and make them stronger.
Gently interactive, reflective text and fluid, humorous illustrations, packed with lots to spot, elevate this book up and away from being didactic into a real and hopeful conversation starter. A glossary and activity guide add further value. If you want your children to believe they can make a difference, and would like to help them develop the tools they’ll need to make change for the better, the playful and practical, optimistic and uplifting Look Where We Live! is for you.
One of the book’s messages i.e. that it’s worth getting up and out there to support your local library is one I’m particularly happy to encourage people to engage with, not least because much of my time for the last year has been spent building community through library campaigning, following the proposal by my city’s Council in October 2016 to close our local public library.
Petitions, demonstrations, thousands of emails and countless meetings later I’m delighted that we’re on the cusp of securing our library’s long term future in our community (you can find out more at foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk 🙂 )
Reflecting on the year gone past, apart from (hopefully) securing the goal we set out for original i.e. saving the library from closure, the other key aspect of the process for me has been how the campaign has driven the development of a sense of community where we live. It’s brought people together in a whole variety of ways, whether through volunteering at events, speaking with councillors, writing to newspapers or simply through alternating between tearing our hair out together and building for the future together. I’ve met so many people in my community that I never knew before, and at a time when there are big questions in the UK about what sort of society we want and where we want to belong (or otherwise), a focus on building and supporting a diverse community has never seemed more important.
Community building, and as part of that, library campaigning and supporting has to be fun if it’s going to work; there are many generous, selfless, constructive and wonderful people out there who want to work together on creating better communities, but it is always easier if you can have some fun along the way. So my bit of fun for today is another edible library, somewhat simpler and quicker to make than the chocolate extravaganza I shared earlier this week.
I started with rice crispie squares which I cut into book-shaped proportions, before sticking a lollipop stick into each.
I covered each square in melted choclate and before the chocolate set, I wrapped fruit leather around three sides of each “book”.
Titles were added using cake sprinkles “glued” into position with a tiny bit of heated up jam.
A small but perfectly formed library, feeding tummies as well as mind and soul!
Wishing you all a very happy Libraries Week!
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building by the book’s publisher, Hachette Children’s.