SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Visitors to the entrance of Winfield Morse Elementary School in Sleepy Hollow can't help but notice what looks like a mini-schoolhouse mounted on the exterior wall next to the school's entrance.
Inside the meticulously designed schoolhouse, complete with shingles and even a solar light that shines in the dark, are books -- dozens of books, mostly geared toward readers between the ages of kindergarten and middle school.
The small house is actually a "Little Free Library," established by Sleepy Hollow Middle School seventh-grader Sydney Schulz, who dreamed up the idea for the tiny library as a bat mitzvah project.
After conducting some research, Schulz learned about the Little Free Library, an international organization of everyday people setting up boxes and tiny “houses” filled with books. Anyone is free to leave their books or borrow books currently housed in the tiny libraries.
For the box itself, she settled on the idea of a little red schoolhouse and sought permission from Tarrytown school officials to locate the little library outside the Morse school. Principal Thomas Holland and Peter Quartironi, director of school facilities, loved the idea and suggested that Sydney mount the schoolhouse on the exterior of Morse and include a reading bench.
Schulz and her father, Jay Schulz, built the little library. At the same time, she began raising money to cover the cost of the bench, setting up a fundraising booth at the middle school book fair, the John Paulding book fair and the Warner Library book sale.
After raising $260, she was surprised to learn that the Morse School would purchase the bench. So at the recent dedication, Schulz donated the $260 she’d raised to the Foundation for the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, which will use the money to fund literacy-related projects.
“I hope that generations of students who come to the Morse School, and others in the community, will be able to see and use my box to grow their love and appreciation for reading,” she said.