BY ARON DANIELS
“A book is a dream you hold in your hands.” —Neil Gaiman
I feel like one of the best gifts I can give my kids is a love of reading. A person who loves books can learn about different life perspectives, travel the world, explore history, engage imagination, and become inspired and educated, all from opening a new book. Books are the closest thing we have to magic. A person can lose themselves in a book and take an entire journey that opens them up to life as a whole.
Over the last few years, we have really been encouraging reading in our house and as it has taken root in our kids, I wanted to take it to the next level. I wanted to take that love of reading and make it something that had even more room to grow. What if we had a way to share our love of reading with our community and give our family something to engage in together that could make a positive impact locally? Enter Little Free Library, a“take a book, return a book” free book exchange. A couple of months ago we were finally able to put up our very own free book box in our neighborhood. We got started by going around our house and finding 15-20 books that we really liked and hoped would find new homes and filling up our box. Every couple of weeks we have replaced the books and have really enjoyed seeing some of the books being swapped out by local residents. Recently I had our local used bookstore gather a large assortment of books for us to buy, and it was a game-changer. Suddenly, we had classics, best-sellers, children’s books, cookbooks, fiction, biographies, and everything you could think of. It felt like Christmas to me to be able to have a ton of interesting reads for our neighborhood book box. All the books are free for people to take and we also accept donations.
Last week we did one extra thing that really had my kids excited. Because not everyone is familiar with what a book box is, or even noticed it as they were coming and going, we took gifts to our neighbors. We made bags that included a free book, a bookmark with some basic information about the book box on it, and a paper that told them why they were getting a book and that they could come swap it out if it wasn’t a perfect fit for them. Before we even made it up the second street with our wagon full of books, we saw kids on bikes at the book box, and a family heading there with a book to swap in hand. It felt really neat to see people out (on kind of a colder day) just to check out the new box. I am a big believer in investing in your community in whatever ways you can, and my hope is that these books will become valuable to our neighbors the way they are to our family.
Since starting our Little Free Library, we have also made it kind of a fun destination whenever we go out together. The website, LittleFreeLibrary.org has a map of all the registered book boxes, and we found out that there are about ten of them within a few minutes of our house. Many of them are at playgrounds, churches, and other great local community spaces. It has become a treasure hunt for us to go find new special books to enjoy.
If you are interested in creating your own book box location, you can register a box that you create yourself, or can purchase one of the existing options at LittleFreeLibrary.org. Reading has the power to really impact everybody. Find your local book boxes today and fall in love with a new book.