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The work to eliminate book deserts in Nashville gets statewide attention

jarredwithlogo-234x300A Metro Schools educator was recently featured in Tennessee Classroom Chronicles for his work to promote literacy and access to books. Jarred Amato is an English teacher who was honored in 2015 as a Metro Schools Blue Ribbon Teacher. He spoke about the progress of Project LIT Community, which strives to eliminate book deserts by retrofitting newsstands with mini-libraries and distributing them in neighborhoods where bookstores and libraries are not available.

Inspired by an article he read in the The Atlantic, Amato said he realized that Nashville was no exception to the nationwide problem of book deserts. Asked about the progress of Project LIT Community, Amato shared that his students have led efforts at Maplewood High School to collect more than 7,400 books by Thanksgiving:

... One highlight was when we realized that we had reached our ambitious goal of collecting 5,000 books by Thanksgiving. The class erupted in cheers. We were so proud to accomplish something that many didn’t believe was possible. As of November 30, we have received 7,426 books and are confident that we will reach our next goal of 10,000 books by winter break.

I’m also really proud of the fact that nearly 60 students, teachers, parents and community members came together for six hours on a Saturday last month to count and sort thousands of books, and utilize their art skills to convert a dozen USA Today newsstands into beautiful little libraries.

Finally, I would just say that because of our project, every day has become a celebration of reading. How cool is it that high school students get excited to open a box of books

Amato said the project engaged his students to address a real need in their community and helped them gain real-world skills that prepare them for college and career success, such as problem-solving, teamwork, logistics, social responsibility, graphic design, fundraising, and engineering.

"It is my kind and empathetic students who give me hope for the future, and I knew that they would take this idea and run with it," Amato told the publication.


Learn more about Project Lit Community below: