This weekend my daughter visited her first Little Free Library. Actually, it was my first visit, too, though I had seen various photos. Last week I saw an LA Times article by Carolyn Kellogg about a children's book drive by Little Free Libraries. As my daughter's bookshelves (not to mention my own) have been a bit overloaded, I suggested to her that we pick out some books to donate. She was thrilled with this idea.
We spent a couple of days intermittently going through a subset of her books and selecting those that were donation-worthy. Her first pick to be jettisoned was The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak (which she actively dislikes, as previously discussed), but we couldn't find it. We made a rule that we both had to agree on each title - if either us felt that the book should be kept, we would keep it. This process led to quite a bit of extra reading, as a number of books had to be read to be evaluated, and a relatively small stack of books to donate. I was able to beef up this stack with some selections from my own stacks, and we assembled a moderate-size box.
On Saturday morning we set out (with help from the LFL website) to find the closest Little Free Library. The one we eventually found was across the street from an elementary school, close to the public library (where we also had books to drop off), and perfect for our purposes. We got out, dropped off the box, and picked out two books to take home. My daughter was charmed by the whole process, and has shown much more interest in reading "the Little Free Library books" than the (44!) books that we checked out from the public library. We are currently halfway through Buster's Dino Dilemma from the Arthur Chapter Book series).
A few take-home messages from this process:
- The weeding process led to additional reading aloud (of infrequently read titles), and appeared to empowering for my daughter.
- The cuteness of the actual Little Free Library increased my daughter's pleasure in the whole experience, and helped her to bond with her selections.
- This entire experience, of course, reinforces the power of individual choice by kids in what they are going to read.
I do recommend this experience. Even if there's no book donation drive going on, there is nothing stopping you from collecting a half dozen books from your child's shelves, and finding the closest Little Free Library. Or, of course, taking books to a school, hospital, shelter, etc. Anywhere that you know that gently read children's books will be welcome. And then you'll have room for more books!