COPPERAS COVE, TX — Wish, One and Only Ivan, Because of Winn-Dixie. These are just a few of the favorite books of Williams/Ledger Elementary third-grader Noah Spitzer who will read anything he gets his hands on. During COVID-19, Noah is ensuring other children have plenty of books to read also.
As the reigning Little Mister Five Hills, Noah fulfills his love of reading by visiting all Copperas Cove ISD schools monthly and loading up the Little Free Libraries with age-appropriate books. The colorful vending machines outside the front entrance of each school and the two city swimming pools offer books to children at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“My favorite part of filling the bins is knowing that other children will have books to read and that reading might become their favorite thing to do like it is mine," Noah said. "H-E-B donated a whole bunch of books and I even donated some of my own after I finished reading them."
The CCISD Little Free Libraries were established in Copperas Cove in 2017 by Junior Miss Five Hills and third-grader Leslie Lindholm. Since then, the Little Free Libraries have distributed more than 3,000 books to children.
During COVID-19, Noah considered closing his libraries but wanted to be able to provide books to children, especially now that school campuses are closed and the city library is closed. Based on advice from the CDC, Noah chose to keep the libraries open but follows specific precautions when filling the libraries. He washes his hands before opening the Little Free Libraries. He cleans the libraries with disinfectant wipes and pays special attention to high-touch areas like the handles and bookshelves. To be extra-cautious, he cleans the books with disinfectant wipes. Then, he washes his hands again when he is done.
"The hardest part of this project is not being able to keep every single book so I can read all of them over and over myself," Noah said.
The National Institutes of Health shows that the coronavirus is detectable on cardboard for up to 24 hours, but the CDC stated it isn’t worried about books transmitting the disease.
“For paper-based products, we’re really not concerned, and you don’t have to worry about finding ways to disinfect those materials,” said Dr. David Berendes of the CDC in his March 30 presentation. “The virus, if it’s present, would be present in very low quantities and would die off quickly…. If you were really concerned, you could wait for a 24-hour period before lending the book if you were in an area of high-transmission.”
Families donating books to the Little Free Libraries are asked to wipe down the covers with disinfectant wipes to remove and kill the virus before placing them in the bins.