We recently received this letter from Noah Smith-Drelich ’07 (emphases added):

When I came to the Pine Ridge Reservation two years ago, most of my students hadn’t ever finished a book. It wasn’t that books were too hard; most had never tried to finish a book. Their teachers hadn’t pushed them, and there weren’t many books to read even if they had. And that’s where ephblog stepped in.

In under six months, I have received box after box of books from ephs and friends of ephs–roughly 2,000 books in total! I started with three bookshelves and now I have nine. By the end of the summer I will have eleven. What was once an afterthought of a classroom library has become the most frequented library of any sort for at least thirty miles.

While I sadly won’t be returning to Crazy Horse next year–I will be going to law school in the fall–our books will be back, and I know that students and community members in Wanblee will be reading from this library for many years to come. One student asked me if she could be the librarian when I was gone. Another has been looking up quotes about reading and writing them on sentence strips to hang above the library [see picture below]. One of my older students got so excited by the book drive that she wrote her relatives in Oklahoma who donated ~50 books in a mini book drive all of her own doing! I know that when I leave, my students will be in the right place–hooked on reading with enough great books to last for years.

As an English teacher and an English major, I am rarely at a loss for words. However, I really can’t begin to express my gratitude for the generosity shown by so many of you. Thank you to everyone who helped organize this book drive, and to everyone who donated books. Your books will continue to serve this community for years and years to come.

Pictures and comments from Noah follow. (click for larger versions)

I can’t fit the library in one picture now!  The next picture is of the other part of the library.  The sentence strips read “Words are the voice of the heart,” “Read with mind, write with soul,” and “Reading is a window to the world.”  You can just barely see in this picture where one of my students labeled the shelves based on what’s on them (they’re organized by genre).

library

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I seriously couldn’t tear Jerome (sitting) and Rueben (standing) away from this book:

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“oooo–I’m going to finish all of these by tomorrow!”  

–Taneesha (the girl to the right back of the picture–she was REALLY excited about the Scary Stories books).

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