By George Slaughter
Celia “CiCi” Rico, a 14-year-old Katy Junior High student, committed suicide in January. Her family and friends Friday turned that tragedy into something positive by dedicating a little free library in her honor.
The library is a small stand with a box filled with free books for checkout and returning, though there’s no checkout process. Someone hoping to get a book from this library simply shows up, opens the box, and takes the book.
The library stands in front of the gazebo in Katy Heritage Park, 5990 George Bush Dr. The library is part of a national program, begun in 2009 in Wisconsin, designed to share free books with readers.
Each book in the library has a sticker on the inside front cover paying tribute to Cici.
Deana Davidson-Maikranz, CiCi’s mother, said CiCi had a knack for reading, adding that one her favorite books was the poetry book Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur.
“She loved all kinds of books,” Davidson-Maikranz said.
Those visiting the library will see tributes to Cici, along with the message that it’s OK to not be OK. It’s an important message because people with anxiety or other mental health issues can feel discouraged about things, but are afraid to seek help. It’s OK to ask for help.
“No one wants to talk about suicides,” Davidson-Maikranz said, adding that people would rather talk about cancer or other diseases. “They just want to brush suicide under the rug.”
Davidson-Maikranz said CiCi had anxiety issues and borderline personality disorder. She also tried to commit suicide in the past.
“Some kids knew about that, and bullied her about that,” Davidson-Maikranz said. “She didn’t want to tell me because she knew it would make me more of a helicopter mom than I am now. She had a lot of anxiety.”
Despite these issues, Davidson-Maikranz said CiCi was always trying to help people, even when she herself was struggling or being bullied.
Asked what CiCi might have thought of the library, Davidson-Maikranz said, “I think she probably would have thought, God, how famous I am.” She said CiCi came across a social media message that predicted she would be famous.
“She thought she was going to be famous,” Davidson-Maikranz said.
Siblings Elena, 17, Kaden, 15, Kamdyn, 10, and Brenlee, 8, joined Friday’s festivities. Kamdyn checked out the first book.
Ward B Council Member Rory Robertson and Adrienne Davitz, who serves on the Katy Heritage Society board of directors, worked with others to get the library installed and dedicated. Robertson served as master of ceremonies Friday. He recalled how “my thoughts started to go into overdrive” when he heard the news of CiCi’s death.
Ward B Council Member Jenifer Jordan Stockdick and Ward A Council Member Janet Corte were in attendance.
Davidson-Maikranz said t-shirts honoring CiCi are still available for purchase at this website. Cost is $22 and proceeds benefit the family.
For more information about the Little Free Library program, visit its website.