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Brotherly Love: Filling School Libraries

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(credit: CBS) Ukee Washington
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By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many Philadelphia schools suffer from a lack of books. To many adults who grew up with school libraries, it’s inconceivable that some kids today don’t have them. In a repeat airing of one of this year’s Brotherly Love profiles, Ukee Washington introduces us to a woman who is bringing books to schools.

This bright room at Fitler Academics Plus School in Germantown has the bones of a library: shelves, posters, reading light. But it wasn’t until recently that this room had the heart of a library: books! Boxes and boxes of them, all donations collected for the school by Chestnut Hill College professor Jessica Kahn.

“Dr. Kahn has spearheaded a spectacular book drive for this school,” said Willette Jones, the principal at Fitler Academics Plus.

Ever since hearing that some schools in the Philadelphia School District don’t have books in their libraries like Fitler now does, Kahn has become set on changing that.

“Every school should have a library. It’s a crime that they don’t,” Kahn said. “Children who read, succeed.”

Kahn, who is volunteering her time, found it’s pretty easy to get books.

“The thing is, when children are done with books, they’re done with them. And nobody throws away a book,” she said.

Once Kahn gets all the donations, she and Fitler’s library aide catalogue them, adding stickers and bar codes.

“Now that we have a library, I can’t imagine how we functioned without a library,” said Jones.

The kids here can rattle off their favorites:

“Cat in the Hat,” said Nadia Lester.

“Batman,” said Jeremiah Baynard.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” said Derrick Boyd.

“Sherlock Holmes,” said Saniyah Rockman.

It’s elementary, dear Watson: With a library, every child can find a favorite!

Jessica Kahn is now collecting books for two new schools, Jenks Elementary School and Antonia Pantoja, a bilingual charter school, so she would especially appreciate kids’ books in Spanish. If you have books you would like to donate to Jessica Kahn’s efforts, email her at jkahn@chc.edu.

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