I’d mentioned to my family and then on our Facebook page that I feel like I am living in a book. I’ve read a lot of books in a lot of genres, but this book feels most like a post-apocalypse dystopian chapter book for middle grades and young adults. I’m not sure the title of the book we are living in yet. But I’m certainly curious about how our own character develops in it! And, to that end, I’m going to try to keep you all aware of what WE have going on and how we can be a part of the story and help it move along in a positive way.
We are a children's bookstore and learning center. Most of you know that, of course. And that's what we'll stay doing until we are all told we must stay in our houses and not leave. But one of our missions has always been to be a safe community space, and now more than ever, we are prepared to fulfill our mission.
Bookstore and book buying:
We have disinfected all our surfaces, and will continue to do so. So, as a bookstore, we are striving for the utmost cleanliness and will still be operating. (And anything that can’t be disinfected has clear warnings or has been removed.) We can still sell books and we can deliver books to the curb for you, or even ship books out. I HAVE heard that this virus doesn’t live as long on paper and cardboard so you’re better off reading a book than being on a tablet. In addition, if you really can’t take us up on those options but need reading material, PLEASE help us and all independent bookstores out. We are affiliated with an online bookstore and have a page on their site. Purchasing books through that site (instead of Amazon) helps us a little. (Emailing me a list of books and having me send them to you helps us more, but going to this site still helps us!) There’s a tab to it right here on our website, but here’s the link: https://bookshop.org/shop/treehousebookshop
Safe Community Learning Space:
This is where I am feeling like we have a way to fulfill our mission to be a safe community space even more. We teach kids and we aren’t going to stop doing that. But how? Well, in addition to our regular teaching, which we will still continue with a whole slew of protections we put in place yesterday. I am preparing to have workspaces set up throughout the three event spaces in our store. Each workstation will be set up with appropriate social distance. So, as schools start to close, we will be a safe and sanitized space for kids to come and 'be' during the day. It won't necessarily be like our camps, in that I won't have organized and planned activities for them all day throughout the day. But if they have work from school, we will be here to help them do that. And if they don't have work from school to do, I will make sure they are still engaged and learning (something) at an appropriate level. And when we need a break from that, maybe we’ll even watch a worthwhile movie or show. But we’ll do this from each person’s own safe and clean space and we’ll be sure that we aren’t sharing materials, we’ll wash and sanitize hands regularly, and we’ll clean and sanitize the space each day. I have and will continue to run our safety procedures by medical professionals and will add precautions as necessary.
In addition, I have been really slow at starting back up our readers and writers group this year because busy life just kept getting in the way. Earlier this week I thought “now I have to wait even longer to do that”, but now I’m thinking “I have to do that NOW.” So, part of our plans will be to start the readers and writers group start back up so kids have a place to come and read and talk about books, again while maintaining appropriate social distance and in a clean and sanitized space. My plan for the last few months was to have them read the Project Lit book selections, which are on varying themes related to social justice, as well as choosing from the the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for Peace and Social Justice (which include picture books for the younger kids, as well).
The Fine Print (a.k.a. the logistics of all this!)
I’m still working out the times and logistics of all of these plans and as I hear more information from schools, I will continue to update it. In order to maintain the safe and appropriate social distancing, we won’t be able to pack the house, of course. We will do our best to have it set up so we can offer this either for a day, or just a few hours, or whatever you need, so the more organized we are in scheduling (and leaving time for cleaning in between), the more we can help.
Beyond our Walls:
In addition, I’m very concerned about school breakfast and lunch that is offered to many students through school. If schools are closed and unable to provide this, that is a huge concern. So as I hear about opportunities to help, I will serve as a ‘liaison’ for this effort. Whether it’s collecting and distributing food items or monetary donations or what, I don’t have the information at this point. I just know it’s a problem and I am ready to help. If you have information about this as things start to happen, let me know! We are just ready to learn how we can be a community helper to make sure all of our local kids are fed during this confusing time.