'Literary Lots' Transforms Empty Public Spaces into Lively Scenes from Children's Books

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Every kid imagines their favorite storybook coming to life. And one urban planner is making those childhood dreams come true for kids in Ohio.

Kauser Razvi founded Literary Lots, which creates temporary, real-life children’s book scenes in Cleveland. Past installments include scenes from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

This year, the Literary Lots team turned a vacant lot in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood into a scene straight out of The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, Razvi says.

“I love reading and I thought it would be cool to see books come to life,” she told Good Morning America. “It’s a way of reusing space, re-imagining it, giving people feeling for curiosity and joy.”

The Wild Robot is about a discarded robot who becomes stranded on an island and becomes friends with a group of animals.

“I read the book in 2017 and I was so touched by it,” Razvi told the site. “[The Wild Robot] is about how you show up for other people no matter who they are or where they come from, about building community and the community standing up for you.”

Photos of this year’s lot showed children of all ages posing next to a large robot and making their mark on a mural set up to encourage artistic creativity. The installment even features musical performances and other special events.

“I know it sounds cheesy or crazy, but I think these are really important times where there’s a lot happening in this country and in the world,” Razvi told GMA. “The idea that we can bring a sense of community and belonging is really important.”

Razvi told WEWS that the project began a few years ago when Cleveland was working to revitalize vacant spaces in the city. She started with a lot near the Carnegie West Branch of the Cleveland Public Library system in 2013.

“The kind of joy and curiosity that happens when you open a book? It was like, what if this lot was kind of like a pop up book?” she told WEWS.

The Literary Lots are funded through grants and donations from groups including the Cleveland Foundation, Arcelormital, Slavic Village Development and others, according to its website.

The current Literary Lot is open until Aug. 11, Razvi tells PEOPLE.

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