As most of you already know, I spent ten years in the classroom teaching kids reading skills and modeling a pure, unfiltered LOVE of reading. Now that I have taken a step back from the classroom (Will I ever go back? Unlikely.) I am still trying to find ways to share the love and power of reading. The most rewarding and just plain FUN way to do this? By installing a Little Free Library in our front yard. I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to see readers of all ages visit our Little Library and browse through books and magazines (I’m also glad that they don’t catch me staring at them because that would be CREEPY) on a daily basis. Are you an avid reader and want to promote reading in your community? Then here are simple steps on How to Start a Little Free Library.
Connect with the Little Free Library Organization
When we decided that we wanted our own Little Free Library, we weren’t really sure what to do other than have some type of cool structure on our lawn filled with fun reading materials. Thankfully when you head to the Little Free Library website, your questions are answered. From library plans to installation tips, they have the valuable information you need.
Find the Perfect (and Legal) Spot for Your Little Free Library
Since we live on a busy corner of our neighborhood we knew we would get a TON of foot traffic (and we do—even during the frigid Chicago winter), the corner of our walkway was the perfect spot. We also checked our Village ordinances to make sure Little Free Libraries were allowed, and I am happy to say that they are celebrated and encouraged in our neck of the woods. Strict town? Then consider using a wagon to make your own Little Free Library “bookmobile.” You can check out some legal zoning tips here.
Designate a Little Free Library Steward
Your Little Free Library won’t be successful if you don’t put the work in to maintain it. I mean, who would want to check out a run down box filled with ripped up books? Not me—or any of my neighbors. So in our family we take turns each week checking the library to make sure no one has put garbage in it (What is wrong with people?!?!) and to restock it when necessary.
While it can be hard to get my kids to make their beds or brush their teeth, they are always excited for their Little Free Library chore. Check out these tried and true tips for maintaining a Little Free Library.
Build or Purchase Your Little Free Library
Since my husband is handy but not “Hey, use these pieces of wood, some nails, and this pane of glass to create a sturdy library” handy, we decided to purchase a pre-made library from the Little Free Library organization. But if you are interested in building your own and making it a family project, be sure to check out these helpful videos to help you with your construction.
Stock Your Little Free Library
When you purchase a library from the Little Free Library organization, it comes with books to get you started. But if you take the DIY route and are struggling to fill your Little Free Library, take to social media! I have found that simply by connecting with other neighbors via Facebook has led to numerous book donations. So much so that my library became too full. The solution? Storage bins in my garage, with books divided up into ages (little kids, big kids, adults).
I can score cheap books at seasonal library and garage sales, but I also invest in high quality books like my family’s lists of favorites to ensure that I’m putting out high quality, engaging reading materials.
Register & Promote Your Little Free Library
Another great way to gather attention for your library? Register it with the Little Free Library organization and add it to the World Map of libraries. Your library will be given its own individual number and the steward will receive many benefits solely because your library is now part of the Little Free Library network.
Here’s to helping create a positive reading environment for all! And if you catch me outside while you are coming to check out the books, don’t be surprised if I offer you a glass of lemonade (or wine) and get to know you.
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