Do you have a child who rarely picks up a book outside of school? Little Free Libraries may be the way to get them reading.
What Is A Little Free Library?
A Little Free Library is a small wooden structure full of books — there’s probably one located in
The Little Free Library concept began in 2009 with a Wisconsin man named Todd H. Bol, who built a small model of a one-room schoolhouse. People liked the idea, and he made 30 more Little Free Libraries within the next year. By 2012, there were 4,000 Little Free Libraries and the movement registered as a nonprofit. By 2013, the concept began winning awards, such as the Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation.
How Can Little Free Libraries Help Kids?
I grew up with a deep love of reading and was thrilled to stumble upon Little Free Libraries in local parks or the nature center next door to my grandparents’ house. On a trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was even able to tour southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home and peek into the Little Free Library underneath. Its location seemed fitting.
I recognize many kids today don’t have the same insatiable appetite for books I did. This could be for many reasons: maybe reading doesn’t come naturally to them, perhaps they haven’t yet discovered that one special book to introduce them the magic of reading, or maybe they’re just used to playing video games.
The delight of stumbling across a whimsical Little Free Library (many of which are shaped like fun items such as castles or hobbit houses) and the excitement of choosing a book, then leaving another behind for someone else, can create a feeling of excitement about reading.
The goal of Little Free Libraries is to “inspire a love of reading, build community, and spark creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.” Many towns put libraries in locations where kids are sure to discover them, such as the schoolyards or local park.
Others use the libraries to kick start their summer reading programs. Since research shows reading skills can decline during the summer months — a phenomenon
Search for a local Little Free Library using the world map on the nonprofit’s website. If you can’t find one in your town, make one. For DIYers, kits are available on the Little Free Library Online store.
Next, add your Little Free Library to the map indicating hundreds of thousands of other miniature libraries around the world. What the scavenger hunt for one nearby proves to kids? Reading is fun.