Have you ever walked around a neighborhood and stumbled upon a little bookhouse on a stand offering free books inside? You just might have found a Little Free Library.
“Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in Hudson, Wisconsin. Our mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries. Our vision is a Little Free Library in every community and a book for every reader. We believe all people are empowered when the opportunity to discover a personally relevant book to read is not limited by time, space, or privilege.”
Maria Dismondy (author, publisher, speaker, and founder of Cardinal Rule Press) had a little fun with her kids during the summer visiting these Little Free Libraries. They went to 100 different Little Free Libraries in Michigan, and “donated 100 books, one book to each little free library.”
The Little Free Library offers 24/7 free book access to any child, why is this so important? “We are facing a growing literacy crisis. Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in the hands of children have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.” Little Free Library ensures access in high-need areas where children’s books are limited. As of now they have “100,000+ Little Free Libraries, in 100+ countries, with 42 million books shared annually”. Aside from visiting them and donating books, you can also build a Little Free Library of your own.
Is activism an important virtue you want to pass onto your child? What about kindness and compassion? Download this free worksheet to be intentional about the traits you want to teach your children!
Also check out these children’s picture books about Little Libraries and teaching kids about activism –
1. Lila Lou’s Little Library: A Gift From the Heart by Nikki Bergstresser (Author), Sejung Kim (Illustrator)
The best book for teaching the power of activism and perseverance. Lila Lou’s Little Library by Nikki Bergstresser carries key concepts of sharing, creativity and community supported by the many advocates of positive parenting solutions. It’ll sit comfortably on your shelf alongside other books that focus on overcoming obstacles and creating community, like the work of Dan Santat (After the Fall) and Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart (The World Needs More Purple People)
2. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (Author)
A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.
3. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai (Author), Kerascoët (Illustrator)
As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
4. Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul (Author), John Parra (Illustrator)
Todd and his friends love heroes. But in school, Todd doesn’t feel heroic. Reading is hard for him, and he gets scolded for asking too many questions. How will he ever become the kind of hero he admires? Featuring stunning illustrations that celebrate the diversity of the Little Free Library movement, here is the story of how its founder, Todd Bol, became a literacy superhero. Thanks to Todd and thousands of volunteers—many of whom are kids—millions of books have been enjoyed around the world.
5. The Little Book of Little Activists by Penguin Young Readers (Author)
A celebration of political activism by America’s youngest citizens–our children. You’re never too young to care about your community or to stand up for your beliefs. That’s the empowering message of this book, which is all about how real kids exercise their first amendment rights.
Filled with inspiring photos of children at recent demonstrations and rallies, The Little Book of Little Activists also includes inspirational quotes from kids themselves on topics of equality, diversity, and feminism, as well as an introduction by Bob Bland, co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, and an afterword by civil rights activist Lynda Blackmon Lowery, author of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. Five percent of gross proceeds go to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund. The Little Book of Little Activists is a child’s very first introduction to political activism, presented at a level that they can understand and relate to. Perfect for parents who want to raise their kids to become participatory members of a democracy.
Catherine Noonan is a marketing intern at Cardinal Rule Press this summer and also a student at Oakland University. She is currently in her senior year, and will be graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, May of 2022.