Have you spotted one of these in your neighborhood?
A photo posted by Little Free Library (@littlefreelibrary) on <time style="font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px;" datetime="2014-06-21T22:01:07+00:00">Jun 21, 2014 at 3:01pm PDT
It’s cute, huh? Sort of like an oversized, adorable mailbox you’d see in a fairytale but with books inside.
They’re called Little Free Libraries. And they’re popping up everywhere.
Any passerby can drop by, pick up a book that piques their interest, and then return a different book they’d like to share. Take a book, give a book, basically!
The coolest part? Anyone can start one. All you have to do is fill a box with some page-turners in a place that’s accessible to the folks you want to share with (i.e., your front yard). The box can be built from scratch or purchased.
Then the magic begins!
The nonprofit responsible for these charming boxes named Little Free Library, naturally has experienced an explosion of interest around its idea. (Seriously, I know explosion sounds dramatic, but the numbers will back me up here.)
Since Little Free Library got off the ground five years ago, 28,000 boxes have sprung up across the globe!
Little Free Libraries are in every American state, every Canadian province, and in 80 other countries around the world. In fact, Little Free Library told Upworthy there’s about 40 million books in circulation through their boxes. (And that’s a modest estimation.)
This is a simple idea that has a huge effect on kids.
Books are hard to come by for kids in some neighborhoods around the U.S. and that’s putting it lightly. A study published in 2001 found that while each kid in a middle-income area had an average 13 books at their disposable, as few as one book was available for every 300 kids in low-income neighborhoods.
Those book deserts can play a big role in shaping young people’s lives, according to Kristine Huson, director of marketing and communications at Little Free Library.
“[Reading can be] the cornerstone to someone having a successful life,” she said. That’s why the organization works with schools and police departments that are focused on community engagement to put books into the hands of kids who otherwise may not get the chance to read for fun.
But don’t fret, grownups: Little Free Libraries are for you, too!
While the nonprofit aims to make books more accessible for children, they are also quick to point out the benefits Little Free Libraries offer everyone. Reading, for example, can significantly reduce stress and ward off cognitive decline as we grow older, Huson said.
It can also act as a neighborhood icebreaker. In fact, one communal box of books can transform an entire neighborhood.
“People have said, ‘I put a Little Free Library up, and I met more neighbors in a week than I’ve met in 10 years of home ownership,'” Huson said.
If you decide to build or buy your own Little Free Library, make it official through the organization. This way, your library will be added to the organization’s world map, which pinpoints exactly where anyone can find a Little Free Library.
You’ll also get a sweet charter sign confirming your library is part of the global network on top of other cool perks.
Isn’t it refreshing to know that even in a world with iPhones and flatscreens, sharing a copy of your favorite book can still make a big difference? *sigh*