HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Students at the Kelly School in Holyoke now have an easy way to take books home with them thanks to the Latinx Empowerment Association.

A “Little Free Library” opened Friday right outside the school’s main entrance. Students can take a book home and return it when they’re done, or if they really like it, keep it forever.

“Our intention is to provide low-income families with access to a diverse range of books,” said Miren Neyra Alcántara, a Holyoke resident and LEA Club president. “We believe in the power of literacy and education and are committed to social justice.”

Alex Santiago and Miren Neyra were members of Holyoke Community College’s Latinx Club. They worked to collect hundreds of books for this free little library… many of them dealing with themes of race, cultural heritage and representation, and LGBTQ+ issues. They said they wanted the students at the Kelly School to see characters that were similar to them in these books.

Members of LEA said that the idea began as a book donation and distribution for children who live in the Holyoke Flats, one of the poorest sections of the city. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, club members decided to turn the project into a “Little Free Library.”

The LEA Club says that they held a drive last spring to collect books, emphasizing those that dealt with themes of race, cultural heritage and representation, and LGBTQ+ issues.

“While two Little Free Libraries have been established in Holyoke, their locations in the Highlands mean they are not easily accessible to children living in the Flats. As a club, we believe that representation matters, especially during this alienating time,”said Santiago.