By JONAH LOSSIAH
One Feather Reporter
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Tuesday, Jan. 24 marked the dedication ceremony for the now-named Vonne and Shih-Rong Little Free Library located at the Dora Reed Children’s Center.
Dr. Anthony Chow, director and professor at San Jose State University, has been working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) as part of a grant called Reading Nation Waterfall. He and his parents, Dr. Chak Chow and Lynne Chow, have pledged to donate $3,000 a year for the next 10 years to fund this little free library.
Dr. Chow and his parents spent a few days in Cherokee and spoke at the dedication ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
“It is a true honor to be able to dedicate this little free library to the memories of Vonne and Shih-Rong Wang. Vonne was my mother, Lynne Chow’s, twin sister and my aunt,” said Dr. Chow. “Vonne was a Real Estate agent who always had a lot of sparkle and life. Shih-Rong was a nuclear physicist who was so bright, proud, and strong. They loved one another dearly and were lifelong companions. They passed within six months of one another.”
He also said that had a meeting with Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed about the initiative and hopes to stay involved with the project. He said that the goal is to raise reading standards in anyway that he can, and he is hopeful that a project like this will spur others to join in on this mission.
“My parents, Dr. Chak Chow and Lynne Chow, believe that funding the Vonne and Shih-Rong Little Free Library at $3,000 a year is a fitting way to remember their names forever by providing for the future of young children through books as part of my federally funded early children’s literacy IMLS grant called Reading Nation Waterfall.”
The donation and grant is not just fund the Little Free Library, however. Dr. Chow said that a portion of the annual donation is set to assist with original publication of material. He said that after talking with partners in the project, the first book that is set for publication is a kid’s book about Cherokee stickball.
Also in attendance were Dora Reed Program Manger Tina Saunooke and Qualla Boundary Public Library Manager Adam Lambert. The team spent the afternoon handing out books to the children and parents at the entrance to the Dora Reed Children’s Center.
The Reading Nation Waterfall states the following about its focus:
“The name Reading Nation Waterfall represents an aspirational and resolute metaphor for the vision and desired outcomes of our project. As waterfalls tirelessly carry pure water that turn into streams and rivers bringing the nutrients for life to flourish, we hope to do the same for tribal communities by saturating the daily ecosystem of children and families with carefully selected books for children and their caregivers and information about culturally relevant programs and resources at their local libraries.”
Dr. Chow said that he was proud to be part of something like this and that he can’t wait to see what other ideas come in the future.
“Hopefully this little free library will provide fun, excitement, and a brighter future for all children and adults who use it in their memory,” said Dr. Chow.
The EBCI is one of five tribes that have collaborated with this project. More information on the Reading Nation can be found at https://myreadingnation.com/.