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Penn-Trafford library aide transforms old books into dress for Women’s History Month

Sarah Schadler said she has a “really hard time” throwing old books into the dumpster.

The McCullough Elementary School library aide in the Penn-Trafford School District instead saves unused, outdated books — some with copyrights as early as 1954 — for future library projects.

Her latest project featured a Cinderella-style transformation: Schadler took the pages from three nonfiction books and transformed them into an inky evening gown.

The “book dress,” which is on display in the McCullough library, aims to honor Women’s History Month. It is accompanied by a display that promotes books about several influential women.

“I obviously love girls, and I think that they can do anything,” Schadler said. “I’ve been trying to inspire them with (the dress and display).”

To begin the project, Schadler fitted her sister’s old bridesmaid dress to a dress form.

She created the upper half of the dress by using Mod Podge to stick the pages to the bridesmaid dress.

The bottom part of the dress consists of pages that were folded, curled and hot-glued to mimic a feather skirt.

Finally, Schadler added a paper rose and black ribbon to complete her creation.

It took Schadler four days to make the dress. Her hard work paid off — she said the dress impressed both girls and boys, and some students called her a “designer” and “artist.”

The March display hopes to honor women’s accomplishments. Above the dress, Schadler wrote, “Never underestimate the power of a girl with a book,” a quotation popularly attributed to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The dress also is surrounded by biographies of women such as Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride and Malala Yousafzai.

Schadler hopes the display encourages kids to read a new book and learn more about women’s history.

“I had a little boy the other day ask me, ‘Why don’t we have a Men’s History Month?’ And I was like, ‘You don’t understand, women had to fight in order to vote, in order to do all of these things that men just got to do because they’re men,’ ” Schadler said. “He never even realized that they had to fight so much for it. It’s good to teach (men and boys) that we had to fight for this.”

Christine Chesky, the Penn-Trafford district elementary librarian and library media teacher, said the display shows girls they can “follow their dreams and reach their potential.”

“It’s important for us to show girls who are in our elementary schools that anything is possible and they can do anything that a man can do,” Chesky said.

As library aide, Schadler teaches K-5 children once a week. She reads to the students, helps them check books in and out, organizes the bookshelves and decorates the library with handmade artwork.

Schadler loves “being crafty.” Every month, she changes the library’s display.

“I try to make (the library) fun,” Schadler said. “I want (the kids) to have fun when they come in here.”

Chesky described Schadler as talented, adding that Schadler always looks for new ways to help students read and pursue their interests.

“(Schadler) brings an enthusiasm for reading that ignites excitement in the students,” Chesky said. “She has endless energy for new and creative ideas and projects.”

Maddie Aiken is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Maddie by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .