Baltimore librarian competes to create book nooks in underserved areas

A Baltimore librarian on a mission to increase literacy for city children is up for an important grant that could help further accomplish her mission.It all began about four years ago on a Baltimore stoop, when Araba Maze was reading books to her nieces, and neighborhood kids would listen in.”I saw little heads popping up on the other side of the book and I said, ‘Do you guys want to join in on this?’ And they were like, ‘Yes.’ So, I read to them that day and I went back inside, and they were, like, ‘Wait a minute, is this over?'” Maze said.From there, Maze started collecting books and giving them to the children in the neighborhood, even starting her own in-home library and becoming a librarian. But reading on the stoop every Saturday wasn’t enough for Maze, who was aware of the literacy statistics in Baltimore City. She wanted to do more.”We know that if children are not reading on-level by third grade, there are so many pipelines that they are predicted to enter, such as they predict that children are more likely to end up in prison or impoverished or unemployed as adults,” Maze said.That’s why Maze is on a mission to build satellite book nooks with free books and get them put in underserved areas, such as corner stores, parks and places children frequent. Her idea caught the attention of the United Way of Maryland. Now, she’s up for the Change Maker Grant with a top prize of $25,000.She’ll use the money to buy books and build the nooks. It’s money that could go a long way in her mission to help change the community.”It’s so joyous to see and share joy with children and see their face light up as we’re reading, and I think it really provides escapism as well as education for the kids. It also works as therapy,” Maze said.Voting takes place Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. and it’s live online. ​

A Baltimore librarian on a mission to increase literacy for city children is up for an important grant that could help further accomplish her mission.

It all began about four years ago on a Baltimore stoop, when Araba Maze was reading books to her nieces, and neighborhood kids would listen in.

“I saw little heads popping up on the other side of the book and I said, ‘Do you guys want to join in on this?’ And they were like, ‘Yes.’ So, I read to them that day and I went back inside, and they were, like, ‘Wait a minute, is this over?'” Maze said.

From there, Maze started collecting books and giving them to the children in the neighborhood, even starting her own in-home library and becoming a librarian. But reading on the stoop every Saturday wasn’t enough for Maze, who was aware of the literacy statistics in Baltimore City. She wanted to do more.

“We know that if children are not reading on-level by third grade, there are so many pipelines that they are predicted to enter, such as they predict that children are more likely to end up in prison or impoverished or unemployed as adults,” Maze said.

That’s why Maze is on a mission to build satellite book nooks with free books and get them put in underserved areas, such as corner stores, parks and places children frequent. Her idea caught the attention of the United Way of Maryland. Now, she’s up for the Change Maker Grant with a top prize of $25,000.

She’ll use the money to buy books and build the nooks. It’s money that could go a long way in her mission to help change the community.

“It’s so joyous to see and share joy with children and see their face light up as we’re reading, and I think it really provides escapism as well as education for the kids. It also works as therapy,” Maze said.

Voting takes place Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. and it’s live online.

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