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Little Free Library, Charter #147,091 was officially opened at Valley View Elementary School in Montville Township, New Jersey, on November 18, 2022.
“We are pleased to add a Little Free Library to the Valley View Community in Montville, New Jersey,” said 5th grader, Shyam Sriram.
As the appointed Panda Pagoda representative, Sriram welcomed the crowd assembled for the grand opening of the school’s Little Free Library.
“This library joins the more than 150,000 other Little Free Libraries around the world –- including places like Iceland, Tasmania, and Pakistan.”
The purpose of the Little Free Library movement is to bring people together and create communities of readers.
The Valley View Little Free Library was purchased with funds earned by the Panda Pagoda.
Workers at the Valley View Panda Pagoda, donated the profits from the sale of school supplies and Valley View swag to acquire the school’s Little Free Library.
“This was an idea that came to the Panda Pagoda students and teachers pre-Pandemic,” explained Valley View Principal Dr. Patricia Kennedy.
The Panda Pagoda, which is named for the Valley View panda mascot, is run by students in Kristin Warfield’s 4 - 5 Language Learning class.
The origins of the Valley View Elementary School’s Little Free Library are rooted in a $550 grant issued in 2018 by the Montville Educational Foundation.
That grant provided funding for the launch of the Panda Pagoda, a school store designed to teach students the basics of running a business; from marketing and accounting skills to inventory tracking and sales.
“The grant was written by teachers Kristen Warfield and Jennifer Blanchard, and Speech Therapist, Shelby Newkirk,” Kennedy said. “Their goal was to give students increased opportunities to use their expressive language and build peer to peer relationships.”
Panda Pagoda students, guided by their teachers, research, order, market, and sell items to the student body, typically during lunch periods, a few times per year.
“Students gain increased confidence and independence, by working at the Panda Pagoda,” explained Warfield.
“When the students learned how much money their store had earned, they came up with the idea to give back to Valley View by purchasing The Little Free Library that the school and community could enjoy,” Kennedy noted.
“You may have noticed the blue book-sharing box in front of our school” reads a notice on the Valley View elementary school webpage. “If you see a book you would like to read, feel free to take it with you. If you have a book you would like to share, leave it in the Little Free Library for others to enjoy.”
“Take a Book. Share a Book.” is the motto of the Little Free Library world-wide initiative.
“We welcome students, families and neighbors of Valley View to start borrowing books and sharing books today,” Sriram said.
The young merchant then wished the crowd a heartfelt: “Happy reading.”
Valley View Elementary School is one of five elementary schools, and seven schools total, in the Montville Township Public Schools district. Valley View serves the needs of 365 students.
Video of the Little Free Library ribbon cutting ceremony can be viewed on the Montville Township Public Schools YouTube Channel ( https://youtu.be/_efUvPDEeek )