Children’s Book Authors and their Little Free Libraries

The Little Free Library (LFL) movement is an awesome one, and children’s book authors are the best ambassadors! Check out the following children’s book authors from all across The United States who have started and maintained Little Free Libraries in their communities.

Marla Frazee, author and illustrator of A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, The Farmer and the Clown, Roller Coaster, Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert, The Boss Baby, The Bossier Baby, and Boot and Shoe (among others!). Illustrator of All the World, The Seven Silly Eaters, Stars, the Clementine series, and God Got a Dog (among others!).

Location of Little Free Library: Pasadena, CA

About Marla Frazee’s Little Free Library: The bottom shelf is stocked with children’s books, the top is for grown-up books, and the rock is for sitting.

 

Laura Shovan, author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Location of Little Free Library: Ellicott City, Maryland

Laura’s Little Free Library origin story: “The library kit was a gift to myself when I sold The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. My husband built the structure, and my teen made the wooden dragon (it’s a puzzle) a few years ago. We decided to put the dragon on top of the library and give it a dragon librarian theme. Of course, we had to name the dragon after one of our favorite fantasy creatures, Calcifer the fire demon, from Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle. Miss Jay created the gorgeous paintings and I wrote Calcifer’s poem. Our Little Free Library specializes in children’s books. Another LFL steward in town, county librarian Lori Conforti, has an adult library in her neighborhood, so we often give each other stock that doesn’t suit our age group.”

 

Julie Falatko, author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Want to Be in This Book) and Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) (October 3, 2017, Viking Books for Young Readers)

Location of Little Free Library: Maine

Julie Falatko’s Little Free Library story: “My original motivation for putting a Little Free Library in front of our house was from a Rah! Rah! Literacy! Standpoint, and also to use my library degree and to have a good place to put all the excellent books we owned but no longer needed on our shelves. And while I do still love putting books into it, hoping someone comes along and gets very excited about whatever I just put in, what I really love about it now is discovering new books that magically appear overnight, and chatting with my neighbors about books.”

These are the books that are inside Julie Falatko’s Little Free Library right now!

Chris Cander, author of Whisper Hollow, 11 Stories, and The Word Burglar

Location of Little Free Library: West University Place, TX

Chris’s Little Free Library origin story: “My first encounter with a Little Free Library was during a walk through downtown Minneapolis in 2015. It was purple and hot pink with a glass front window and a note that said, “Take a book for yourself, leave a book for your neighbors.” Inside was a motley selection: picture books, biographies, young adult titles, self-help books, and novels. I was so moved by this bespoke book exchange that I wanted to hug whoever had dreamed up such a brilliant idea that combined literacy and community and the charm of a lemonade stand—and I wanted to establish one for my own neighbors back home.

My Little Free Library (#26156) was modeled after my children’s elementary school in honor of its 90th anniversary, and sits along a high-traffic jogging path in a city park where my family has spent many happy hours. As steward, I visit the library every few days to make sure it’s neat and well-stocked. I haven’t been once when someone wasn’t perusing, stocking, or reading. Recently, I went by and noticed two children aged five or six sitting on the bench with an Anne Rice novel open across their laps. “Hey!” one of them said to me. “Did you know you can get free books here?” He pointed to the library with his lollipop.

“Is that right,” I said. ‘What a wonderful idea.'”

 

Josh Funk, author of The Case of the Stinky Stench, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, Pirasaurs!, and Dear Dragon

Location of Little Free Library: Concord, MA

Josh’s Little Free Library origin story: “So, I first heard about Little Free Libraries in 2013 – and even wrote a blog post about them on a now defunct kidlit review blog, Off the Library Shelf. When we moved a couple summers ago from a cul de sac with little-to-no traffic onto a busy street just outside of town, I knew I wanted to put up a little free library. So, for Father’s Day, my family gave it to me as a gift. I did the painting (the kids picked the colors) and it’s been up for about almost a year now. It’s mostly kid lit books that go in and out of there, cause that’s pretty much all we read in my house (if it has kissing in it, it’s too mature for my taste). As an author, I get a decent amount of ARCs, so you might often find books that aren’t even released yet in there.

I think the most interesting thing someone dropped off was a novelization of one of the Olsen Twins’ movies (note: it wasn’t entirely bad). I forget which one, though, cause someone snagged it pretty quickly. As the weather just started getting nicer, I’m excited to see what the summer brings this year!”

 

Karina Yan Glaser, author of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (October 3, 2017, HMH)

Location of Little Free Library: Harlem, New York

Karina Yan Glaser’s Little Free Library origin story: “We started this Little Free Library in the summer of 2015 in our Harlem neighborhood, and it has been so much fun! A local Harlem carpenter built it for us based on a design provided by Chronicle Books, and I love that there are two sides so we can have adult books on the left and children’s books on the right. On the very first day it was installed, my daughters and I filled it with books we had carefully culled from our own collection. Then we took our dog for a walk around the block, and when we returned the library was completely empty! I worried about keeping the little library stocked with books for the kids in the neighborhood, so I reached out to local schools, libraries, friends, used bookstores, and the publishing industry to see if they had excess books they would like to donate. The response was overwhelming! We now get monthly donations from The Book Cellar, a wonderful used bookstore in the basement of the Webster Library in New York City, as well as yearly donations from Curtis Brown, Ltd., the literary agency that represents me. As a result, our Little Free Library gives out over three hundred books a month, and I love that kids can take books out and keep them. It has been a privilege to facilitate this literacy project.

Probably the most unusual book I have seen in our Little Free Library was left there last June. It was called The Unofficial Secretary’s Handbook, How to Call in Sick, Late, or Dead (and Still Keep Your Job). I included a photo of the cover for you if you don’t believe that the book exists.”

Our library has a growing space on the top for flowers and plants, which I love!

The Unofficial Secretary’s Handbook by Richard Mintzer, which someone dropped off in our LFL last June.

Kristin L. Gray, author of Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

Location of Little Free Library: Arkansas

About Kristin’s Little Free Library: “My husband and I started this Little Free Library in December, 2016 as a Christmas gift to each other. On the first day we filled it up with books, and every single book went missing the next day. Because it’s located in between two schools, paperbacks like the Goosebumps series has been especially popular.”

Photo: Brian Hirschy

 

Alison Goldberg, author of I Love You for Miles and Miles (12/26/2017, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Location of Little Free Library: Boston, MA

About Alison’s Little Free Library: “We opened our Little Free Library in October 2013. Several neighbors help keep it stocked and organized and I love the surprise of what shows up. So often the perfect book arrives at the perfect time.

On the very first day we opened our “Lupine Library,” named after Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius, a Cooney book appeared (Chanticleer and the Fox). During the stretch when my son only wanted to read Richard Scarry, we found The Firefighters’ Busy Day and it seemed to be a present just for him. Then there was the week I poured over Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us on ebook–the absolute wrong format for this story–and a weathered print copy washed up for me.

When my first picture book comes out in December I’m excited to place copies in Little Free Libraries around town, so the magic of the libraries can get the books where they need to be.”

 

Marcy Campbell, author of Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers, Pub Date TBA)

Little Free Library location: Cornerstone PlayLab, an outdoor, nature-themed play space at Cornerstone Elementary in Wooster, Ohio

How Cornerstone PlayLab’s Little Free Library came to be: “The PlayLab project took three years between the planning, design, fundraising (we raised $600,000 in private donations) and building.

Cornerstone Elementary is one of our local elementary schools in Wooster, OH. It’s also the school my two children attend. The school serves approximately 500 children in pre-K to 4th grade, including several special needs classrooms. 70% of the students receive free or reduced lunch. The old playground had very little equipment, some of it broken, and nothing for special needs students.

I joined with two other women, both parents at the school, to lead the PlayLab project, though we had dozens of volunteers throughout the many months of work. We had seen one of these Little Free Libraries along a major road in our town and thought it would be a great addition, so it was always on our “wish list” from the very beginning. We bought a kit and a group of local Cub scouts put it together and painted it in our school colors. We’ve received donations of books from parents and community members to keep it stocked. What’s amazing is that, even though it’s such a small-ticket item compared to some of the huge expenses in this project, it is one of the most beloved. Teachers report that many kids visit the library during recess, and I personally see kids at it all the time during non-school hours. It’s sometimes a struggle to keep it full, but we know that many of the kids in our neighborhood may not have personal libraries in their homes, so we’re happy to help provide them with one, even though it may go against the “Take a Book, Return a Book” concept.”

A local Boy Scout troop helped build this Little Free Library.

 

Amy Kurtz Skelding, host of KidLit Drink Night Podcast

Location of Little Free Library: Raleigh, NC

About Amy’s Little Free Library: “We’ve got a LFL in our yard that I keep stocked half with KidLit and half with books for grown ups. Our house is near an elementary school, so I get to see kids of all ages walking by looking in the library.

I like to put books by local authors in there. As a collector of signed books, I occasionally slip a signed book in there (like that copy of Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.) We’ve got a diverse community, so I try to have a selection of books that reflect that as well. A homeless woman stopped by once and said she likes to read romances, so I try to keep one in there for her at all times.

When we first installed the library, I tried putting post it notes on all the books telling kids which were best for what age level, but the ground was soon littered with tiny squares of paper, so now I just let people to make their own good choices. 🙂

Our local neighborhood community helps stock the LFL by putting some great books in there. Also, we’ve received boxes of book donations in the mail from friends near and far who want to contribute. People love books and it’s heartwarming!”

What’s inside Amy’s library right now!

 

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