For a couple of years now, Scholastic Book Fairs Representative Anji Ison had been thinking about setting up a “little free library” in her neighborhood.
One day recently, she watched as a neighbor parked an old grill near the curb outside his home. “We do that a lot around here: put out useable, still viable things that we aren’t using so others can benefit.”
That’s when inspiration struck.
“Seeing the grill just flipped a switch and I suddenly imagined the possibilities, so I asked him if I could have it. He said, "Oh, sure."
Within two days Anji and her daughter, Olivia, completely transformed the grill into a neighborhood book repository.
“It took a lot of cleaning, but we wanted to use what we had; we didn’t want to spend a lot of money right now. So, the only thing I bought was the contact paper that would go inside to line the grill. The whole project cost me $3! I had to buy 3 rolls of shelf paper for the liner; it was $1 a roll at Dollar Tree!"
She lined the inside of the grill with the contact paper and painted the outside with spray paint left over from a project she did in Olivia’s room, who happens to be really into teal. For the image cutouts, she used leftover outdoor vinyl that she also had on hand.
Next, she filled the mobile library with gently used books (and Olivia donated some of her books, too) and posted in her neighborhood Facebook group to give a little highlight about each one.
“I shared what a Little Free Library is, explaining the concept to everyone and suggesting that it's a great place to donate books that aren't being read anymore. I invited everyone to come check it out.”
“To get our community talking about books together, I used the opportunity to share what a book talk is. I took our Scholastic book talk cards, cut them out, laminated them and glued little magnets on the back. And then Olivia and I did a little book talk together to kick things off.”
Along with the book and the booktalk cards, she also posted safety information from the Little Free Library organization about handling the books. (Health officials say it’s very safe to share books and recommend that people just take normal hygiene precautions when handling them.)
“It's been so much fun! I really feel that, with everything that's going on in the world, its helping us keep our chins up. You know, there are only so many things we can control and one of them is what we do with our thoughts and minds. I feel like this is another way to build a strong, closer-knit community.”
One young reader donated a book to the library, and then shared a book talk for it on the neighborhood Facebook page to help spread the message about the power of books to bring joy and comfort.
“Again, it's just been so much fun. It's fun to get feedback about it, and fun to see neighbors talking about it or asking about it because I can see it's making a difference.”