North Central Philadelphia: Tree House Books Helps Students Succeed After School

Tree House Books In North Central Philadelphia works toward ensuring families and students have access to books and educational resources beyond their academic spaces.

Tree House Books, located at 1430 W. Susquehanna Ave., provides academic, literary, and after-school reading resources for students. The organization focuses on literacy based learning and ensuring every child in Philadelphia has access to books they specifically want to read. 

“It’s a joyous thing,” said Emma Goldstein, program manager for Tree House Books’ Access to Books program. “We have seen kids improve their reading, obviously. But the joy and passion people feel at being able to have books and being able to have as many books as they want and start a home library,  is what has the most impact on what I have experienced here.” 

Tree House books offers three different after-school programs. Tree House Sprouts Academy, for ages 4-6, is focused on building school readiness for specific skills in reading and writing. The Literacy Studio, for ages 7-12,  allows students to focus on their interests in art, music, or specific subject areas. The Junior Librarian Program is aimed toward teens who have attended the Literacy Programs, giving them an opportunity to volunteer by providing one-to-one mentoring and academic support to younger students. 

Free books available outside of Tree House Books, located at 1430 W. Susquehanna Ave. The store offers free books to community members.

“I think about how that is not available in my community, West Philadelphia, but to have it here is a safe space and a staple for many families,” said Leonard Chester, Tree House Books’ outreach manager. 

The after-school program is run by Sabriaya Shipley, who serves as the main facilitator for many of the class discussions and projects. The work is “very meaningful” to her, she said. 

The “treehouse” at Tree House Books.

Homework assistance is also available for all ages and students, every Monday through Thursday, 3-4 p.m. 

Tree House Books also provides student-led group discussions, homework assistance, and a snack for all students. Many of the students attend Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School, just down the block from Tree House Books. Staff often walk to the school and pick the students up for the after-school program.

A staff member of Tree House Books restocking and organizing books on the shelves

“I’ve worked with other after-school programs, and I have realized that they get a chance to come inside the Tree House and it is a different environment,” said program assistant Symphony Common. “When you walk inside the treehouse, you don’t think about the outside stuff. And they get an opportunity to be themselves and experience new things.” 

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