Andy Yung, a pre-K teacher at P.S. 244Q in Flushing, is getting more books into the hands of children by installing a Little Free Library at two public schools in the community.
In 2019, Yung helped the Queens Botanical Garden get a little library to allow community members to share books with each other. Recently, he was able to bring a little library to his alma mater, P.S. 24Q. The library is located in the school’s playground and anyone is welcome to take a book or bring a book to share.
Yung’s second little library will be placed at P.S. 120Q.
“I love that it’s free and anyone can participate either by taking a book or sharing a book,” Yung said. “I grew up in a household that didn’t really put a priority on reading. I loved books growing up, but I never had books of my own.”
While the Flushing Library was closed during the pandemic and became a vaccination site followed by renovations to upgrade the air system, Yung thought a little library was much-needed in the community where he grew up.
According to Yung, many families in the community utilized the library to borrow books for their kids’ homework. Yung said he wanted to make sure that there was an option for children to take books home, whether or not they intended to return or keep them.
“I just wanted books in there for families,” Yung said.
That’s when Yung launched a fundraiser on DonorsChoose, a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects, to build a Little Free Library. Yung submitted the project in October 2021 and received funding in less than a month. Due to the pandemic, Yung built the library at home and it remained in his bedroom for quite some time.
During the school year, Yung’s priorities were focused on his students as they transitioned from remote learning to in-person instruction. The little library project had taken a back seat, he said.
Throughout the school year, Yung’s students decorated the library and the school’s speech therapist helped paint characters and brainstorm where the library should be placed. While his original idea was to house the library at the Queens Zoo or the Queens Museum, Yung and Councilwoman Sandra Ung decided it would be better to install the library at P.S. 24Q.
“I have a lot of fond memories at P.S. 24Q. A lot of my close friends and I keep in touch. It’s a special place and being able to share the pictures I posted on social media and my friends reaching out saying, ‘Thank you so much for doing that for our community.’ There’s a sense of pride,” Yung said. “I want families to know that the library is there and to utilize it.”
Through DonorsChoose and another nonprofit called Book Fairies, Yung was able to get more books for his students. Last year, every student in his class went home with about 50 books, he said.
“Some kids may come from homes that have books rich in literature and there are others that may not have any books,” Yung said.
Students at P.S. 120Q are currently decorating Yung’s second little library.
“Once they’re ready, they will put it out and I will swing by with some books and put the charter number on it,” Yung said. “My father and I built another one and we are trying to figure out where to put that one. I feel proud to be able to contribute to the community that helped me become the person I am today.”