January 4, 2021
Frederick Newell is the founder of Iowa City’s Dream City, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering fathers and their young children through support groups and other various events. Newell also runs a LFL, which serves as another way to help the community.
“One of the things that I tell our students that I get to work with on a daily basis is, reading is very fundamental … You need to be able to read to do any and everything. So for me, especially for young people, I want reading to be something that they love, because if they can love it now, then they will always be willing to put the work in to help you to get them to whatever level that they want to be at. Without being able to read, your opportunities are very limited,” Newell said. “One thing that I live by is being a lifelong learner. And so to be that, you must be a reader.”
One way Newell encourages reading is by making sure there’s a wide variety of genres to choose from, along with featuring diverse authors and stories.
“Recently, we just got a large number of books by Black authors so that kids within the community can read books by authors who hopefully they’ll have similar experiences with, and they can see themselves in the actual book,” Newell said.
While the libraries support reading and provide good representation for kids, according to Newell, they’re also impactful because they’re nearby and can be more convenient than going to a public library.
“Our library’s in front of two apartment complexes. One is on the left side of the street, [and] one is on the right, so it’s easily accessible. Once they’re done with the book they can put it back in. If not, they can keep it,” Newell said. “I believe that it’s helpful in a way that if you don’t have transportation to get to a library or somewhere to purchase the book, you can find a book within that free library.”
Because of these benefits, the library is used regularly and has become essential in the neighborhood as reported by Newell.
“There must be a huge need because those books go fast,” Newell said. “That’s one of the things that I love most about it. … Kids or adults, somebody’s taking the books, and I’m just hopeful that they’re reading it and then passing it along to share that information with someone else.”