For Michelle Candella, a fourth-grade teacher at Lakeville, learning has always been an important part of life inside the classroom— now she’s hoping to bring learning to children of Oxford outside the classroom with a free book exchange box.
It was erected in the Lake Villa Manufactured Home Community in Oxford Dec. 10, where Candella said many Lakeville students reside.
Lakeville Elementary IB Coordinator Christine Vince first helped inspire the idea as she gave a lesson about taking action in education earlier this year. It was at that point, Candella said she remembered seeing a book exchange in Detroit and decided it would be a great way to bring education to children in the Oxford area.
“The hope was to bring a sense of community and books to the neighborhood so our students don’t need to travel. There will be books ready for them and the community outside of school hours, always available and always changing,” said Candella.
The library was constructed by Michelle’s brother, Michael Audia, of Davison, who she describes as the “builder of the family.”
Working with her brother, Candella has spent the past two months building and painting a 5-foot-high display case with two “floors.” The lower will hold picture books for younger children and the upper will hold books for older children.
The box, which measures approximately 18 inches by 36 inches, features a unique and colorful crooked house and Dr. Seuss-inspired look.
Candella said she’s currently in the process of officially registering the box as a Little Free Library.
The Little Free Libraries, which are now an international movement, were started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin. Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his school teacher mother, where people could take and leave books.
The movement soon gained traction, and Little Free Libraries have sprung up across the United States, Great Britain, Ireland and Africa.
Its mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community to share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.
According to Lakeville Reading Specialist Elizabeth Delano, Lakeville’s student council will be acting as the stewards of the library, rotating books and ensuring it remains stocked with donated books.
Once it has been stocked and officially registered as a Little Free Library, the premise of the box will be simple. Visitors can take a book with no late charges or fees. All that is asked is that the book be eventually returned.
According to Audia, the project was well-worth the time and he couldn’t be more excited to see how the box is received.
“Michelle is very passionate about education and, of course, her teaching and making sure it’s available to everyone… I hope (the kids) like it and they use it. It’s kind of a prototype. If it does work out and does well, I’d be happy to improve it and do another, perhaps at another location that could help children in Oxford,” Audia said.