This is a guest post courtesy of Lauren Fields. Lauren is a hugely talented writer and I am so pleased that she has been able to provide this post to encourage us all to share books, and to spread to the word about the Little Free Library. You can get in touch with her over at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several months ago, a small box on a wooden post, similar in size to a bird box, appeared in the garden of a house across the road from me. I spotted it whilst sitting in the window feeding my then-newborn daughter, and resolved to have a closer look at it the next time I was passing by. A day or two later, whilst walking over to the corner shop, I tried to have a better look, but I was wary of stopping to really look closely- this was someone’s front garden after all, I didn’t want to appear nosy, as if I was trying to snoop through their window!
I established from that fleeting glance that the small wooden box on a pole contained books, but it wasn’t until several days after that that I finally plucked up the courage to stop for a ‘proper’ look at its contents. On doing so, I discovered a selection of paperback books- some romance novels, one or two sci-fi titles, and a few of my favourite crime fiction authors. There was also a small plaque, inviting me to ‘take a book, share a book’ and directing me to www.littlefreelibrary.org. I selected a book and took it home, intrigued.
A quick browse of the Little Free Library’s website reveals a worldwide book-sharing initiative, originating in Wisconsin, USA in 2009, and developing into a registered non-profit organisation with over 4,000 libraries by the end of 2012. Today, that number is much higher, with 90,000 registered libraries in over 90 countries across the globe. Those interested in registering to join the scheme can, for a small fee, buy a charter sign to add to their library box, giving them a unique registration number, and adding them to the website’s world map.
Around this time, I became aware of another book-sharing scheme in my local community. Similar to the ‘rock-hiding’ craze of a few summers ago, when people would decorate rocks and then hide them for others to discover; this time participants hide books in various locations in their local area, protected from the elements by a plastic folder. Parks, community centres and the nearby beach are favourite spots in our area. Inside the folder, they add a note explaining the scheme to the reader, and directing them to a Facebook page where they can share their find with others.
Those who choose to take part are encouraged to then continue the ‘game’ by returning their book when they have finished with it, in order for someone else to find it, and perhaps also to hide other books of their own. A quick search on social media reveals many of these groups have been set up in recent months, often with group names such as ‘Look for a Book’ or ‘We’re Going on a Book Hunt,’ followed by the name of the local area. I could see straight away why this ‘game’ was so popular- after all, who doesn’t love receiving an unexpected present?! I wondered how many people had found one of these hidden books, and been taken out of their comfort zone by a new genre they never would have thought to read before- maybe they even found a new favourite!
Although I haven’t been lucky enough to find a hidden book yet, I’m now a regular borrower from the Little Free Library box on my street, and I donate any other books I’ve finished to the box, too. Sometimes the books I borrow have a little note in from a previous reader, giving their review of the plot; or just telling me they hope I have a nice day! I love feeling this sense of connection with someone I’ve never met before, and never will- the only thing we have in common is that we both enjoy a good book, and we’ve both decided to give this title a go.
Why not have a look online to see if either of these schemes are going on in your local area? If not, you could even set up your own- after all, as J.K Rowling has said, “something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”
Written by Lauren Fields, 2019.
I am a parent and primary school teacher, with a particular interest in Early Years, outdoor education, and modern foreign languages. If you would like to contact me regarding writing an article for you, please direct messages to email@example.com