BOONTON — It was a bittersweet day in late June, 2018, when the congregation at Boonton First Presbyterian Church bade “au revoir” to Carol Grant and Joyce Wetstein. After decades at the helm of at the Love 2 Learn Nursery School (formerly, Boonton Area Nursery School, or BANS) the two much loved leaders had decided to retire. It is estimated that well over 1,000 children received a well-rounded, classic nursery school education at Love 2 Learn / BANS.
Many parents and alumni wanted to somehow celebrate the contribution that the school and its educators had made to the Boonton community – and thus the idea to establish a special multi-language collection for children at the Boonton Holmes Public Library. “When Reverend Jen reached out to us to see if the library could honor Carol and Joyce, we were immediately on board,” says Lotte Newlin, Library Director. “We thought a collection of children’s books in multiple languages would reflect both the inclusive spirit of the school as well as the diversity of the Boonton community.”
Over the next several months, Boonton residents, many of whom are parents of Love 2 Learn or alumni themselves, gave generously to the project, resulting in a seed fund of over $1,500. Then the work of curating a collection began. The idea was to create a collection of titles that immigrant parents could read to their young children in their native languages so that they might honor their cultural roots while adapting to life in America. The result was about 100 picture books in 9 languages – Arabic, Farsi, French, Italian, Hindi, Spanish, Polish, Pashto, and Urdu. “This is just a beginning,” says Ms. Newlin. “We look forward to building an even bigger and more diverse collection over the years.”
On July 7, the collection opened with a small, informal party in honor of Ms. Grant and Ms. Wetstein. “We were delighted and touched that our families wanted to do this,” said Ms. Grant. “Our main goal was always to do the very best for the children in our care. We weren’t looking for any special recognition at all.” The two honorees and the guests enjoyed browsing the collection, which is housed in a special section of the library. “We look forward to getting involved with the project,” said Ms. Wetstein. “For starters, we have a large collection of photos from the years when the school was open. We plan to put them in an album for alumni to enjoy.”
Donations of new or gently used children’s books in non-English languages are accepted, and fundraising for the collection is ongoing. Checks should be made out to Boonton Holmes Library, memoed “Love 2 Learn.