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Welcome to Storyline Online brought to you by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
I'm Kiernan Shipka and today I'm going to be reading you "The House That Jane Built" written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Kathryn Brown.
I'm very excited to be reading this to you all.
A house stands on a busy street.
Its doors are opened wide, to all who come it bids good cheer, to some it says, Abide.
In 1889, a wealthy young woman named Jane Addams moved into a lovely, elegant house in Chicago, Illinois.
But instead of moving into a lovely, elegant neighborhood, she picked a house that was smack in the middle of one of the filthiest, poorest parts of town.
Why would a wealthy young woman do this when she could have lived anywhere?
Jane was just six years old when she went on a trip with her father and noticed that not everyone lived like her family did.
She vowed that one day she would live "right in the midst of horrid little houses" and find a way to fix the world.
Jane was a strong soul from the start.
And she was brave.
When she and her stepbrother George were young, they would sneak away at night to explore in nearby caves.
Once, Jane lowered George over a cliff on a rope to spy on an owl in its nest.
Jane was smart.
She read and read from her father's book collection, which doubled as the town library.
Most girls did not go to college then, but Jane's father believed women should be educated.
She went to Rockford Female Seminary and graduated at the top of her class.
But when school was over, she wasn't sure what to do with her life.
That same summer, her father died.
Jane was lost.
About two years later, she and her friends traveled to Europe.
They went to the theater, the opera, and many beautiful places.
But then Jane saw something in London she couldn't forget: people in ragged clothes with outstretched hands, begging a cart vendor to buy his leftover rotten fruits and vegetables that hadn't sold at market.
The spoiled food was all they could afford.
What could she do to help?
Long after her trip was over, the question stuck in her mind.
She remembered how she felt when she was six.
Jane traveled back to London to learn about a place she had heard was helping the poor in a brand-new way.
At Toynbee Hall, the idea was to have rich and poor people live together in the same community and learn from each other.
Instead of simply serving soup, for example, people could take cooking classes.
Other skills were taught as well.
Toynbee Hall was the first settlement house.
It was called a settlement house because the well-off people who worked there during the day didn't go back to their own homes at night.
Instead, they "settled" in and lived at Toynbee Hall, right in the same neighborhood as the needy.
Jane now knew what to do.
She told her friend Ellen Gates Starr about her plan to build a settlement house in Chicago.
It was "as if a racehorse had burst out of the gate, free at last to pour every ounce of energy into running."
There was a glittery side to Chicago, with its mansions, fancy shops, and sparkling lakefront.
But there was a gritty side, too.
One million people lived in Chicago in 1889.
Most were immigrants — people who came from other countries.
They came for a better life, but they didn't speak English.
That made it hard to find good jobs. Many needed help.
Jane found the perfect house.
It had big rooms with high ceilings and marble fireplaces.
And it was in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city.
Garbage lay rotting in the streets, piled high.
Large families were crammed into tiny, ramshackle houses with no running water.
The smell from back-lot outhouses hung in the air.
Rough boys ran the streets, stirring up trouble because they had nothing to do.
The house had belonged to Charles J. Hull, and he had left it to a wealthy cousin named Helen Culver.
At first, Jane paid rent, but after she told Helen what she had in mind, Helen gave her the house for free.
In thanks, Jane named it Hull House.
Jane moved in on September 18, 1889.
The very first night, she was so busy and excited that she forgot to lock a side door before going to sleep.
But no one broke in.
She decided to leave Hull House unlocked from then on so people would know they could come in at any time.
People who didn't have enough to eat or had no shoes on their feet or had just lost a job began to find their way to Hull House.
Of course, it wasn't always peaceful.
Once, a couple of boys threw rocks at the house and broke a window.
Instead of getting upset, Jane took it as a sign to give the neighborhood kids something to do.
She had her own way of looking at things.
Another time, Jane discovered a man in the house looking for something to steal.
He tried to jump out a window to escape, but she showed him the door so he wouldn't get hurt.
When he broke in a second time, she asked him why.
He said he was out of work and had no money.
Jane told him to report back the next morning.
When he did, she gave him a job.
Jane spent her own money running Hull House, and asked other well-off people to donate, too.
She did not want to be paid for working there.
Even when people gave her gifts, she gave them away.
Her friends teased Jane about this.
One friend gave her new underwear with her initials on them just so Jane couldn't pass them on.
But she did!
Any problem Jane discovered, she tackled.
No running water in houses meant no easy way to bathe.
This led to sickness. So Jane put in a public bath.
People flocked to it, which helped her convince city officials they needed to build more public baths.
No safe place for children to play?
Jane talked a wealthy man into giving her the lot he owned near Hull House.
Workmen tore down the shabby buildings and turned the lot into a playground.
It was the first one in Chicago!
Little kids home alone because their parents had to work fourteen hours a day?
Jane started a morning kindergarten and after-school clubs.
She also set up afternoon classes for older kids who had to go to work during the school day.
Jane did not do all this alone.
Ellen Gates Starr was her partner from the start.
Many other smart, generous people moved into Hull House and helped.
They taught literature, art, English, math, science, and cooking.
Soon there was not just one building, but two.
Then three, and four, and more.
By 1907, Hull House had grown into thirteen buildings, including a gymnasium, coffee house, theatre, music school, community kitchen, and an art gallery.
By the early 1920s, more than nine thousand people a week visited Hull House.
The house that Jane built brought all kinds of people together and helped those in need.
It changed a bad neighborhood into a great and strong community.
Hull House transformed the lives of all who stepped inside.
Today, every community center in America, in large part, has Jane Addams to thank.
With all that she did, both inside and outside the house that Jane built, her childhood wish to help fix the world came true.
And the cool part about this story which I love so much is that its true.
Reading is so magical for so many reasons.
It can bring you to amazing, magical places that are beyond your wildest dreams, but it can also give you amazing, valuable, inspiring information like this and I'm so happy this book exists and that I got to learn a little bit more about Jane today because she makes me want to be a better person.
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The House That Jane Built read by Kiernan Shipka

1421 Folder Collection
capt.izutsu3336 published on March 1, 2017    translated    Evangeline reviewed
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