The project was implemented by Mariupol Central Children Library within the all-Ukrainian campaign “More Reading”. Galyna Motruk, senior librarian of Gorkyi Central Children Library of Mariupol, spoke about this via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the project “Spokesperson of peaceful life,” supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
One “starling box” is in the “School for future mothers” and another five in the children’s clinic, as well as neurological and trauma department at Children’s Hospital. “Often, while waiting for their turn, children play with a gadget or just languish. Now children and mothers waiting for their turn to see a doctor or those who are hospitalized can take a book to read, or take it home and then bring back. Reading has become even more available,” said Ms. Motruk.
The “book stock” of mini-libraries consists of books and magazines on various topics for young children and parents. “We try to have an equal proportion of Russian and Ukrainian books in the “starling boxes”. It is easier to learn a language through reading,” explained Galyna Motruk.
Funds for mini-libraries were received as part of mini grant. Librarians attended the British Council’s training “Active Citizens.”
Mariupol artists painted “starling boxes” in Petrykivka style. One “starling box” was painted by children.
The opening of each new mini-library was celebrated. Librarians dressed up as various fictitious heroes, asked riddles, and held quizzes. These events helped trigger children’s interest toward reading books.
“Starling boxes” will be checked every two weeks. In case of shortage of books they will be supplemented with new books.
Book stock will be supplied through charitable actions
Since the project did not envisage a substantial sum of money for books, librarians launched a charity campaign. They urged parents and children to bring books that they want to give or no longer need at home. The corresponding ads were placed in social media and city press. Nine libraries of Mariupol joined the action.
Though there are enough books in the libraries, children’s literature in Ukrainian is lacking.
The libraries turned into cultural and educational centers
Galyna Motruk informed that the libraries live a very active life. According to her, from a “place to read” they turned into the local cultural and educational centers. The libraries host extracurricular activities for students, fairy story performances, and various master classes. There are also meetings with writers. The last high-profile event was the arrival of Irene Rozdobudko.
There is constant coordination with schools: teachers and school leadership are informed about all planned activities, and they inform children. Children come both by the whole classes and alone. More than a thousand visitors attend the library over a month.
Galyna Motruk noted that an important part of librarian’s job is to arouse the child’s interest in reading, and advise parents in what form they should best do it. According to her, it is very important that the child chose a book by himself. Colorful illustrations also contribute to this process because they help image the characters and events. But the most important factors are a personal example of parents and turning the reading into the family tradition.
Background: A nationwide public initiative “More Reading” was launched in Ukraine in 2012. Today it has been operating in eight regions of Ukraine and even in Washington. The social movement promotes reading, creates an environment to enhance children’s reading and co-creation of children and adults.