Tree House Books celebrates its third annual limo trip.
What was an abandoned upholstery shop on West Susquehanna Avenue developed into Tree House Books. Since 2004, Tree House Books has been an asset to the North Central Philadelphia community. As an after school learning center and bookstore, its focus is to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers and thinkers in North Central Philadelphia.
Feb. 1 marked its third annual limo trip where volunteers and a group of 19 kids were chauffeured to the Franklin Institute in two stretch limousines. In order to qualify for the trip, children were required to read 10 books at the start of the school year.
“We give [children] the room to prove everyone wrong,” said volunteering and tutoring time coordinator Lauren Macaluso. “Children can read. They just aren’t given the proper attention and [Tree House Books] provides the space and we provide this challenge. They meet the challenge because they want to and they’re capable of it.”
Malique Prescott, 9, said he was thrilled that he would be going to Franklin Institute in a stretch limo. He said the goal of reading 10 books was easy for him.
“This is my first time going [on the limo trip] and I want to see the giant heart,” Prescott said.
With incentives like their annual limo trip, Tree House Books continues to foster the growth of children and get them excited and enthusiastic about reading. As a result, children are rewarded and encouraged to continue to strive academically.
The limo trip is more than a reward for reaching their reading goals, but rather a way of showing the children that there is more to see beyond the corridors of their North Philadelphia community. Children are exposed to different Philadelphia neighborhoods and cultural enriching excursions.
The Executive Director of Tree House Books, Darcy Luetzow, said their organization provides a unique learning experience that she refers to as, “education through the back door.”
“[The children] don’t realize that they are growing and expanding and learning,” Luetzow said. “They know that they’re doing things to improve themselves – it’s so much fun or it’s all together or with their mentor – it just doesn’t fit inside the same context of traditional school or learning. It’s much more vibrant and so I think that’s where the children reach places they never thought that they could.”
Not only does Tree House Books serve and address the educational needs of children, but also serves the community. Tree House Books places emphasis on building relationships with community members.
“It’s the tutors, board of directors, the family members and staff who advocate for these children…that’s what keeps Tree House Books going because they’re deeply invested,” program and development coordinator Mike Reid said. “That’s how you advocate for someone.”
Kierra Bussey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.