A week or so after my mother passed away last year, my father mentioned an idea to honor Mom. He and I were sitting in Sammy’s On The Square, a cafe near his home. I’d been in Wisconsin for nearly two weeks leading up to Mom’s passing and then through the week of the funeral. He offered to take me to breakfast before I left for Iowa.
“I was thinking of getting one of those little libraries,” Dad said as we drank coffee and waited for our food – likely eggs-over-easy and corned beef hash for him, a feta cheese omelet for me.
Mom loved to read. She enjoyed best sellers, mysteries, biographies, and she wasn’t too proud for a romance novel that Fabio graced. Sometimes she re-read halfway through a book before realizing it was a repeat. Helping kids learn to read was one her favorite parts of her job as an aide in the local elementary school. She liked to read to my brothers and me, and later to our kids, too.
She frequented the library and usually had a fabric bag with paperbacks in her car, ready to exchange at a used book store. She liked to say she pushed through her housework fast so she could read in the afternoons.
So Dad’s suggestion for a little library in her honor was perfect. Dad was impressed with the Little Free Library movement, started in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, WI, in honor of his mom who also loved to read. The organization’s website explains its mission: To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations. In 2015, the organization was awarded the Library of Congress Literacy Award for its best practices in literacy and reading promotion. As of late last year, there were 50,000 Libraries registered via Little Free Library according to its website.
Dad found a ready-made little library he liked online, painted it and added a metal engraved plate with Mom’s name. Initially, he planned to locate it near his condo in Wisconsin, but eventually determined it would be better here in Iowa where I could maintain it and enjoy it. “You have a lot of kids in your neighborhood and it is good to get them going with books,” he said. I had it installed just before last Thanksgiving.
If you live in or near our neighborhood, I hope you’ll stop by to check out our new Little Free Library . Be sure to take a book. And if you have an extra one, leave it for the next visitor. Enjoy!
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