Growing Readers, Little by Little Free Library

Sunday, July 14, 2013
Dedicated to memory of Habitat volunteer, Tony Martin
For the last month or so, I’ve watched writer friend, Susan Rosson Spain, work on a Little Free Library. She’s artsy as well as a fine writer, so she’s painted books and birds and ivy on the basic structure, and now it’s really something special. Perhaps it’s the ivy that partly inspired this post today.

I love the Little Free Library, both in concept and application. What started in Wisconsin as a simple woodworking/book idea has blossomed into an international reading initiative. And really, it’s just a mini-lending library, on a stick.

It looks like an over-sized birdhouse, or maybe a child’s dollhouse. And it’s stocked with a variety of books, carefully chosen and freely provided. You’ll find these little libraries all over the country, in busy neighborhoods or at remote crossroads. It’s always open, always free-for-the-taking. Take a book, leave a book. Or don’t leave a book. That’s fine, too. Little Free Libraries have stewards who’ll check and make sure that things are running smoothly.

Of course, it’s way more than a lending library. It’s a literacy movement. The Little Free Libraries are growing readers from one end of the world to the other. So what about you, writer? Are you promoting literacy? Are you growing readers? Because we need to work on that literacy initiative ourselves.

Honestly, I don’t think there are too many writers that need that message. The fact is, writers are almost always voracious readers. We can’t help being enthusiastic about words and books and reading. Some (and I’m thinking of the mister here) might say we talk a little too much about words and books and reading.

You know what? I’ll keep at it. Because excitement about reading is contagious. That’s why I support my regular-sized library and my kids’ school libraries and literacy programs like First Book. That’s why I’m thrilled whenever I see another Little Free Library go up somewhere in my corner of the world—or any corner of the world! I know someone will walk by, maybe a mother with kids in tow, maybe a construction worker on his lunch break, maybe an elderly resident at an assisted living facility, and they’ll stop and say, “Wow. Free books.” They’ll open the door, scan the titles, and reach for a book that looks interesting.

It could be your book. It could be mine. But make it the best book possible, because we’re growing readers, word by word. And dang, y’all. That’s exciting!

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

What a wonderful grassroots project, Cathy. I love the coffee houses that have books to read.

Anonymous said...

Love it. Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Love the picture! I work for Habitat for Humanity.

Debra Mayhew said...

There really is something special about sharing great books - it's like introducing an old friend. Even if I weren't a writer, I'd be sharing my favorites whenever I could. One of the best gifts my grandma ever gave me was a love of reading, and once you have that, you've just got to pass it on!

Anonymous said...

YAY! I love, love, LOVE the Little Free Libraries. When I first saw an article on them (I think it was on Sunday Morning last fall) I got teary-eyed over the beauty of the whole concept. (Yep, I'm that weird.) Imagine my joy just a few weeks later when I spotted one just off the downtown square in my hometown of Dahlonega, GA. Now I can't go downtown without taking a peek inside. I've actually purchased second copies of some of my favorite YA books so I could give them to the LFL. And now I'm so excited to put a copy of my book own book in there.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Cool idea - do we have one around here? We must, surely. Right? With the public library literally five minutes up the road I haven't kept my eyes open for other alternatives (although I love the used bookstore in Snellville). Clue me in as to where one of these gems is stationed and I'll be a happy participant. :)

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