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August 22, 2014, 1:38 pm

Teacher raising money for school library

Malik Nelson’s love for reading and the English language drives him to help his students understand and learn, to prepare them for their future.

Nelson, a seventh-grade English teacher at Birney Preparatory Academy Charter School, at 900 W. Lindley Ave., is trying to raise money for a school library.

“I decided that I needed a classroom library relatively early into the school year, after reading studies about the effectiveness of providing students with the opportunity to read books of their choice,” Nelson said. “I went about buying used books out of my own pockets, whenever I would come across a yard sale or went to a used bookstore, but the process has been slow and costly.”

With a class that enjoys topics that include poetry, school drama, sports, horror and mystery, Nelson came up with the idea to build a classroom library for his students, to increase their knowledge of these topics and to help grow their imagination. These books will be used during reading workshop, which is an important period, during his class.

“My students are mostly interested in school dramas, such as the “Bluford Series” and “The Clique,” as well as sports, mainly basketball and football; horror, comedy and poetry,” said Nelson, a West Oak Lane resident and Temple University graduate..

The main goal for the classroom library is $400, which includes all of the books that he needs for the library. For those who are interested in donating towards the library, donations can be made through

“As far as future projects are concerned, only time will tell what else me and my students will pursue, but developing our library and getting items to keep it organized will be ongoing throughout the school year,” Nelson said.

On the website, Nelson included a description of his students, whose love for reading is enhanced, even though it is within a community where reading is “depreciated.” This, too, is a reason why he is encouraged to create a haven for his students to read and grow.

According to one of his students, books and reading allows them to “visit far away places beyond imagination … giving me a broader view and a newly formed appreciation for reading.” Another student claims that they would like to see new books, in order to develop their comprehension skills.

“I truly believe that reading plays a crucial role in child development,” Nelson said. “Not only does it help a child academically, but socially as well. Reading gives children a person to confide in and seek guidance, it allows a child to explore settings outside of their current environment [and] provides them with role models, giving them something to aspire to.”