When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kids' Books and Community

If you've been to our house, or if you've been reading along here for awhile, you'll know that we installed a Little Free Library on our front lawn a couple of summers ago and have been hosting a friendly neigbourhood book exchange out of it ever since. The library has been everything I'd hoped it would be when I first got excited about starting it -- the little box gets lots of traffic in the warmer months, and I love seeing people of all ages stopping by to find something new and interesting to read. We have a few neighbourhood children who are very regular visitors, and it's still great fun to watch people who have never seen a Little Free Library before discover ours and be delighted by it. Encouraging people to "take a book, leave a book" continues to be an easy and rewarding way for our family to build community and to share the joy of reading.

Our library is getting busy again now that the weather is warmer, so I've been collecting books that I can use to restock it periodically over the summer months. The Canadian Federation of University Women hosts a giant used book sale in Waterloo every April that is a great source for inexpensive reading material, so I headed there first thing this morning to see what I could find. As I browsed through the tables and boxes of books in the children's room, I came across large stacks where the cover pages were all marked with the intials "B-B", which I instantly recognized as those of Will's kindergarten teacher. She is retired now, and it seemed she had donated much of her classroom reading collection to the sale.

I enjoyed a lovely little trip down memory lane for the next while as I flipped through the stacks. I used to regularly volunteer in Will's kindergarten classroom, and I remembered Mrs. B reading many of the books that I was finding to Will and his friends when they were small students in her care. I purchased the stories that were Will's and my favourites this morning, so they can be enjoyed by other young children in our neighbourhood who come to visit our library. These kinds of cheerful coincidences always make me smile. I hope I bump into Mrs. B again sometime so I can tell her about where some of her books ended up; I think she'd be happy to hear it.

I wanted to mention our little library again today to encourage others who might be interested in visiting ones in their community now that spring has arrived, or perhaps even in starting up a library of their own. For my Waterloo Region friends, there is a listing of the Little Free Libraries running in our area available here. You can also find out about ordering a library kit or participating in an upcoming community build on the Little Libraries of KW website, or join their Facebook group for regular updates. If you live outside of the K-W area, you can look for libraries near you on the Little Free Library World Map. For anyone who loves the idea of Little Free Libraries and wants to support the group's literacy initiatives without necessarily creating their own library, you can contribute to the Little Free Library Kickstarter campaign, running from April 22 until May 21, here.

Let's keep encouraging a love of reading in our young people, and let's continue to create vibrant, engaged communities in the neighbourhoods we call home.

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