Book houses take aim at ‘summer slide’

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Melinda Ennis-Roughton, left, executive director of Family Connection Glynn, shows students a recently built book house, one of more than 40 book houses to be placed around the community.

By Lauren McDonald


Matt Nelson knows from firsthand experience the value of a love for reading.

So when the junior director at the Children In Action Sports Club heard about the ongoing project to place lending libraries around town for students to have access to books over the summer, he didn’t hesitate to sign up and participate.

“I have a personal story about how books and education helped turn my life around,” Nelson said.

He was 15 years old when his mother, who struggled with addiction, moved the family to Georgia and signed him up for a youth group.

The attention he received there changed his life and motivated him to get a better education.

“I just fell in love with the library and fell in love with reading,” he said.

Many students, particularly those from low-income families, do not have access to books over the summer break, creating the risk for what’s called the “summer slide,” when a child loses achievement gains made during the school year.

To fight this problem and to provide more local children with books, Family Connection Glynn is partnering with local school PTAs and other organizations to place little book houses around the community, in local parks and neighborhoods.

“It’s kind of a lending library for kids,” said Christine Pierce, president of the Glynn County PTA Council. “In the summer, there’s such a big slide, and for some children whose parents work, they don’t get the opportunity to go to the library to find books and keep up with their reading. So the idea is that these libraries will be in places that are convenient for the kids to get to.”

Local nonprofits, schools and other organizations have committed so far to build more than 40 book houses, said Melinda Ennis-Roughton, executive director of Family Connection Glynn.

“During the summer slide, a lot of these children don’t have access to books,” Ennis-Roughton said. “We’re going to be doing programs at the library where children are invited too, but wouldn’t it be great to just have one right in your neighborhood? You can just walk across the street and get a book.”

To fill the libraries, elementary school PTAs will be holding book drives May 1-15.

Anything that they bring in that’s in good condition will be used to supply the book houses that we’re building,” Pierce said.

Roughton said Lowe’s has been a supportive partner of the project, providing free materials for some nonprofits and offering a discount price on other supplies.

On May 6, Lowe’s is hosting a building event, where volunteers will be on hand to help construct the book houses.

All the book houses will be on display at First Friday in downtown Brunswick on June 2.

“This is a great thing where all the community is coming together for our children,” Ennis-Roughton said.

Those wishing to participate in the project and build a book house can contact Ennis-Roughton at 404-729-1446 or by email at


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