CORAL SPRINGS, FL – With fewer U.S. teenagers reading books these days, a Coral Springs high school teacher is trying to buck the trend, at least in her hometown.

Coral Glades teacher Tammy Schoen created a new way for teens, as well as young children and adults, to get free books in Coral Springs -- and, she hopes, share in the joys of reading.

Working with Coral Springs city officials, she opened this week a Little Free Library box full of books at the city’s Dr. Paul's Pet Care Center Dog Park at 2915 Sportsplex Drive.

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“It’s been a dream of mine to open this for some time now,” Schoen said Tuesday.

The new library box across from Coral Glades High School has about 25 books for all ages, including some in Spanish, she said. All are welcome to take a book, read it, return it or share it with someone else, and stock the box with their own books.

The box is one of more than 100,000 across the world, providing 24/7 access to books in areas where books are scarce, according to the nonprofit Little Free Library. It’s at least the second library box in Coral Springs, Schoen said.

Although Coral Springs is a wealthier city, the need to inspire a love of reading is there for all ages, especially teens, she said.

A 2018 survey found that one of every three teenagers in the U.S. has not read a book for pleasure in a year.

In recent years, less than 20 percent of teens reported reading a book, magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure, while more than 80 percent said in a survey they use social media every day, according to American Psychological Association.

Additional research from Little Free Library shows: academically, children growing up in homes without books are, on average, three years behind children in homes with lots of books.

Knowing the numbers, Schoen, a longtime Coral Springs resident, set out to do her part in encouraging reading.

The department chair of literature at Coral Glades High School has wanted to open a Little Free Library box for years, but Covid-19 presented an opportunity. This spring, she entered an essay contest through the Little Free Library organization and won a library box, as well as a box of books.

Once the colorful box arrived, Schoen’s teaching colleague at school got her connected with Coral Springs City Commissioner Shawn Cerra, who helped her get in touch with the right people at City Hall, she said.

Before long, a city crew installed the box and built concrete around it, making visitors more welcomed.

“I added the first set of books this week,” she said. “It’s small, but I know the box will have a lot of impact. My job will be to make sure it stays full.”

 

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