Carole Moyer is a third grade teacher at Owatin Creek Elementary School, located in Reading, PA. An avid reader and thinker, Carole jumps for joy when she discovers new ideas to promote literacy. Little Free Libraries did just that—for Carole, her students, and her school community.
Imagine donations of gently used books, organized in “pop-up” libraries in convenient neighborhood locations. “Take a book, donate a book,” is the operating principle.
So began the Free Little Library in Carole’s school—and her fascination with LFLs across the country.
“Thoughts of the volume of used books exchanged in places all over the world began to really impress me,” Carole wrote.
There was an unexpected bonus: The project allowed children to lead the adults into a community of readers. Cross-generational connections emerged. Students became what Carole terms “unexpected leaders.”
Read Carole’s story (below) to get inspired. Who knows? There may just be a Little Free Library in your neck of the woods. Kids and adults alike could benefit.
Searching for news articles to use with my after-school tutoring group, I stumbled upon pieces covering Little Free Libraries. These libraries were popping up at beaches, neighborhoods, storefronts, and even in cafes. To be honest, these tiny libraries caught my attention because they were so cute! I thought it could be a topic third graders might like to read about.
Take a Book, Share a Book
That proved to be true! My eager students discovered that more than 90 countries host Little Free Libraries (LFLs)—and the number of registered chartered libraries is greater than 80,000! Extra fun exploded as I allowed my students to search the web for the varied LFL styles and locations. We were in awe of the LFLs that resembled the owners’ homes and the whimsical LFLs where you could “take a book, share a book.”
That evening I viewed a Facebook post about a magical LFL in Idaho where Sharalee Armitage Howard had inserted a bookcase into a rotted 110-year-old tree trunk. Thoughts of the volume of used books exchanged in places all over the world began to really impress me. I decided to check out the Little Free Library organization’s website.
My students found more articles as well as an LFL right down the road from our school in Exeter Township by using the Little Free Library’s interactive map.
The story behind one LFL pulled at our heartstrings. It was created by the grandchildren of a woman who had attended school in this matching red brick community building more than 70 years ago!
Today this building stands at a corner elementary bus stop. We had begun to understand how LFLs build community and boost people’s access to books for adults and children.
An Idea Hatches
Moved by these stories, our tiny tutoring group decided to start our own LFL. We called it the OC Wave’s Little Free Library for 3rd and 4th graders. It would be all about recycling old books in our homes and exchanging books we loved with each other.
The students created a Google Slide presentation to pitch the idea to all the classes. Our first donor was a giant one! Kindergarten teacher Katie Macrina donated all of her books from her former third grade class, plus her own children’s old books!
Readers are Leaders
We unveiled our Little Free Library on April 1, 2019—and that’s no joke! By the end of the year, we had 800 donated used books in circulation. The students became the LFL stewards. They labeled books, distributed raffle tickets to student donors, organized the books by topic in a mobile cart, and stocked the shelves every day.
We have now filled the wall surrounding the LFL with the donor’s photos—a real community of readers! We are Charter #85088 and proud to be part of this amazing, nonprofit organization.
Adults Jump on Board
Other teachers became interested too, and our workroom became a small staff branch LFL!
By the end of the year, the faculty LFL had grown to five times its original size. It is extremely satisfying to see people discussing leisure-reading material they loved and suggesting other titles. Many of us took armloads of books home for summer reading.
I eventually joined a Facebook group for stewards of LFLs. I enjoy seeing a love of reading promoted in creative ways across the country and world.
This tiny group of after-school readers and writers were interested in advancing their third grade skills, but the children also led our entire school and me into a community with greater access to fantastic used books!
Click here to find a LFL near you. Take book or share a book.
Click here to read more about Little Free Libraries—or start your own!