The ‘Traveling Tree House’ hits Philadelphia streets with free books for children

PHILADELPHIA – “I’ve always had a passion for reading,” said middle school teacher Leonard Chester. “It just reminds me of my childhood when I couldn’t afford these books at book fairs.”

Today Chester ensures that this generation of children doesn’t have to dig into their pockets to read a good book.

The Dobbins High School teacher is also the outreach director at Tree House Books, a free library in north Philadelphia dedicated to distributing tens of thousands of books to children in the area. In 2019 they donated over 81,000 books. When the COVID-19 pandemic took root, their total annual numbers dropped to around 50,000.

“Our fundraising library could not be opened due to COVID,” said Michael Brix, executive director of Tree House Books. “We thought what could we do that would replace this for now, but then also have a legacy and be able to survive COVID?”

Your answer came in the form of a bookmobile. You got the project rolling thanks to donations from all over the community.

Many local organizations donated to the cause, including a small business called Anna’s Littlebags. The founder, Anna Welsh, is a 16-year-old college student from Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

“One of our catchphrases is that we care for the planet and the next generation,” she said. “For every small bag sold, 15% of the proceeds go to Treehouse Books to really support their initiatives.”

Welsh was present at the cutting through of Treehouse Books’ new mobile library. She donated more than $ 11,000 to put grade-level books into the hands of Philadelphia children.

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