Have you heard of the Little Free Library movement? I did, several years ago, and was inspired to share news of this cool idea when a neighbor recently decided to put one in her front yard.
The basic idea is simple: Take a book, leave a book. But the structures? They are oh so cute! Plus, rather than taking/leaving your book from say, a shelf in a local coffee shop, the “Little Free Library” is usually located in someone’s front yard, maybe even in your neighborhood!
How did these come to be? Back in 2009 a Wisconsin man built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it in his front yard, with a “Free Books” sign. He built several more and gave them away.
The idea took off, and by 2012, the Little Free Library organization was established as a Wisconsin nonprofit with a board of directors.
There are now more than 32,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, sharing more than 1 million books and promoting, as the organization terms it, “curbside literacy.” Just last month, the Library of Congress honored the organization with a Literacy Award.
Now of course here in the Chicago suburbs, we have wonderful public libraries, and students make regular trips to their school libraries as well. Still, taking the time to visit a Little Free Library with your children is a easy, unique experience — and a fun reason to get out of the house during the cold weather we have ahead of us! One of my friends sometimes walks her kids to the Little Free Library on their street to pick out a new bedtime story. My daughter and I had a fun time stopping by one this summer, leaving some books she had outgrown and a novel I had read. During that particular trip, there weren’t any books that appealed to her, but it was still a nice little outing.
So how do you find out if you have a Little Free Library in your town? The organization’s website has a map function that lets you search by city or zip code, and when you click on the “pin” you get an address, plus sometimes a little bit about the mission or history of that particular Little Free Library.
Here are just a few in the far western suburbs that I found by quickly typing in some zip codes:
- 2550 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia
- 305 N. Van Nortwick, Batavia
- 211 Columbia Street, Batavia
- 3001 Turberry Road, St. Charles
- 404 S. 4th Avenue, St. Charles
- 32 Horne Street, St. Charles
- 2555 Lorraine Circle, Geneva
- 607 Illinois Street, Geneva
- 39W644 Harvey Square, Geneva
- Cosley Zoo in Wheaton (built by a Girl Scout troop!)
- 1114 N. Wheaton Avenue, Wheaton
- 621 Van Street, Elgin
- 1186 Fairwood Drive, Elgin
- 2250 Nordic Court, Aurora
And if you get inspired and decide you want a Little Free Library in your own yard, the organization’s website offers ready-made libraries you can buy and blueprints you can use for building one from scratch.