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R.A.W. Library aims to inspire young minds to read, help with St. Paul reading crisis

On Communities that KARE, the St. Paul-based R.A.W. Library is putting books in homes where they're needed most.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The Wilder Child Development Center is an anchor in the St. Paul community. Families drop their children off knowing their well-being and minds are in good hands.  

The center strongly believes that it's never too early to start learning. The newly added R.A.W. Library plays a role in moving that idea forward.

"What we've done here through the R.A.W. Library is groundbreaking. Typically, you do not have the full library experience on-site at an early childhood center," said Dr. Artika Tyner, founder of Planting People Growing Justice™ Leadership Institute.

Dr. Tyner helped make the space possible.

Families and their kids, ages 16 months to 5 years old, can come in anytime and dive into a world of words.

Credit: KARE

"The young people have their own cards to check out books. Learning should be available and open, and readily accessible. 24/7, 365," said Tyner.

Not only can children check out books, but local, diverse authors like Dr. Tyner come in to read aloud to them.

The name R.A.W. stands for reading, arithmetic, and writing.

"The books that we curated in this collection help to support each of those components," said Tyner.

They're all essential components that impact school readiness.

According to Dr. Tyner, there's a reading crisis in Saint Paul for children of color. She says 61% of families from low-income backgrounds have zero books in their homes.

"When we talk about the reading failures and the crisis we're in, we say young people don't like to read. And I always tell people, that just means you haven't found the right book that the young person will like to read," said Tyner.

The R.A.W. Library is trying to fill that void.

Credit: KARE

"We can continue to just worship the problems. Or we can roll up our sleeves like we all did and say, what can we do to create change?" said Tyner.

Change outside the home and inside.

"I hope that the R.A.W Library can be an invitation to parents to remember one thing for sure that they are their child's first educator," said Tyner. "And the R.A.W. Library's about giving them the tools to support them in that role."

It's also never too early to introduce kids to our differences. The R.A.W Library holds over 100 diverse books.

"An invitation from birth to adulthood to say reading is for everyone," said Tyner.

This space is a dream realized for many in the community, like Dr. Tyner who says spaces like this didn't exist when she was a child.

It's never too early to give a younger generation what you didn't have.

"If we can start off with young people, finding themselves in the pages, the books, finding joy in reading books, we change the whole course of education," said Tyner.

You can support the R.A.W. Library or Planting People Growing Justice™ Leadership Institute literacy initiatives here

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