Back in 2009, the first Little Free Library was erected in Wisconsin, America by Todd Boll, who created it is a tribute to his mother – a teacher who loved reading. He made a small wooden house and put it on a post at the end of his drive with a sign that said ‘Free Books’ for families and children to take books to read.
12 years on, Todd’s book sharing idea is now Worldwide, with over 100,000 Little Free Libraries registered in over 108 countries, with a further eight being placed all across the Better Start Bradford areas of Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton by Better Place, a Better Start Bradford project.
The first Little Free Library launched in November 2021 at The Mayfield Pocket Park at the Mayfield Centre in BD5, with a further seven Little Free Libraries being installed at Bowling Park, Peel Park, Bradford Moor Park, Attock Park, Ventnor Street in BD3, Laisterdyke Library and Folkestone Street over the next few months.
Free book gifting project, Better Start Imagine will fill the boxes with a selection of books with new and exciting titles aimed at 0-3s. The books are there to be taken, swapped, replaced, shared or simply to be read in situ as the libraries have purposely been located near play areas, benches and seating areas. The libraries have their own unique design and theme and have been painted beautifully with appealing designs for small children by artists Helen Corney and Hannah Lawson.
Hopefully the Little Free Libraries will encourage families with little ones to explore reading further and to visit their local Big Free Libraries.
Leanne Souster, Better Start Imagine Co-ordinator, said: “I am really excited to be working alongside the Better Place team on this scheme. Hopefully children will get excited if they see the same book they have at home and the opportunity to explore others that are in there.
“It will also be great for parents and carers to share the books outside with their little ones. There is nothing nicer than seeing families sharing books so what a great opportunity for them to do it outside.”
Adele Adams, Project Manager, Better Place, said: “The Little Free Libraries is a wonderful initiative that brings greater access to books for very young children. By being placed in areas already improved by our Better Place project, families and their little readers can also use the surrounding features and sculptures to act out moments in the books or make their own stories up – books really do open doors into exciting new worlds.”
The Better Place Team would like to thank everyone involved in bringing the Little Free Libraries to life including Better Start Imagine, Friends of Park Groups, Bradford Trident, the Neighbourhood Resource Centre, residents on Folkestone Street, Laisterdyke Library and artists Helen Corney and Hannah Lawson.