What is G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds?

G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is a public art and public awareness campaign designed to inspire the love of reading, provide access to early learning children’s books in areas where books are scarce, and encourage appreciation for public art in Gwinnett County.

What is the Vision for G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds?

The vision for G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is to have 150 free book exchanges painted, adorned and magically transformed into works of art by local artists, sponsored by businesses and individuals, and benefiting children and families by providing free access to early learning books in communities that need them most.

Why is G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Needed in Gwinnett County?

Only 48% of students entering Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) are ready for kindergarten curriculum. In fact, 44 of 80 GCPS elementary schools have over 50% of their students arriving who have not yet mastered PRE-K standards. Many of these young children are arriving to kindergarten as much as 18 months to 2 years developmentally and academically behind. Once behind, without costly interventions, kindergarteners fall further and further behind their grade-level peers making it nearly impossible to catch up by third grade. Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four to six times more likely to leave school without a diploma.

Students who graduate from high school are more likely to become productive, engaged citizens. Conversely, students who do not graduate high school are more likely to be unemployed, have poor health, live in poverty and have children who will then also live in poverty. According to the Department of Justice, the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.

Research shows that early language exposure sets the foundation for cognitive ability, literacy, and school readiness, and it is the strongest predictor of third-grade reading proficiency. The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to books. Yet, a significant number of Gwinnett County children are growing up in homes without books.

In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. The achievement gap that exists between low-income and high-income children can be narrowed by increasing access to books.

The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of children is to increase their access to books.

Where Will G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Book Exchanges be Located?

The book exchanges will be located throughout Gwinnett County in local parks, churches, schools, early learning centers, healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, low-income housing developments, and other places where books are scarce.

Who Can Access the Free Book Exchanges?

The book exchanges are for public use. Anyone may contribute or take books. The book exchanges function on the honor system. If one takes a book, one does not need to return that exact book. However, in order to keep the free book exchanges full of good choices, we ask that everyone contribute to ensure there are always quality books inside.

What Types of Books Will Be Found in the G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Book Exchanges?

Book exchanges will include an assortment of 30-50 multi-language books appropriate for children ages 0-8. In addition, bookmarks and educational literature regarding the importance of early learning will be included.

How Will Books Be Secured for the Book Exchanges?

The Gwinnett Coalition, in conjunction with its signature event, Gwinnett Great Days of Service, is encouraging companies, schools, civic organizations, and faith-based communities to host internal book drives or new or gently-used early learning books. The books collected will be used to fill the 200 free book exchanges. In addition, sponsorship dollars received from individuals, companies, and civic/business organizations for the G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds program will be used to purchase new books.

How Will the Book Exchanges Be Maintained?

The Gwinnett Coalition and its volunteer corps of individuals and corporations will provide oversight of the maintenance and inventory of book exchanges. Scheduled monthly maintenance checks will be established to ensure proper inventory levels of books and repairs of damaged book exchanges.

Are the Book Exchanges the Same Size?

We anticipate 150 of the book exchanges to be of the same design and size. However, artists selected to participate will have the opportunity to modify the design or create their own unique version of a book exchange.

G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds is open to all artists, from the acclaimed to the amateur. Painters, sculptors, craftsmen, multi-media artists, and other wildly creative people are all encouraged to apply. A call for artists will be made in September and a partner-led jury of local arts organizations will select the artists through a process involving a visual proposal and written statement. Each artist selected will be provided with a pre-built little book exchange to serve as its initial canvas. Artists may also choose to construct their own version of a book exchange as long as the design follows size, weatherproofing, and construction standards. Of the 200 artists selected, 50 will be students/student groups from Gwinnett County Public Schools.

How Will the Artists Be Selected?

Artists will have December 9 – January 21 to complete the works of art. All book exchanges will be delivered to our community partner, the Hudgens Center no later than January 21. Once received, each book exchange will be professionally photographed and prepared for a community-wide exhibition of all book exchanges prior to placement in the community.

When Will the G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds Book Exchanges Be Available for Public Use?

Once the G.R.E.A.T. Little Minds exhibition occurs in early February, installation of the book exchanges will immediately begin. We anticipate a majority of book exchanges available for public use by August 30, 2020.

Questions? Contact Lecia Young at lecia@gwinnettcoalition.org or (770) 995-3339, ext. 205

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