Sharing The Magic Of Books

One Little Library at a time

little-libraryBy Kathryn M. Miller ~A movement is afoot. The movement comes in small packages, although typically bigger than a breadbox – but the reach is global and has one rule: “Take a book, return a book.”

The movement is the Little Free Library, which began in 2009 as a tribute to the founder’s mother – a former school teacher who loved reading. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a model of a one-room school house, filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard. Rick Brooks of Madison, who promotes green practices and a vibrant local economy, joined forces with Bol and a community was formed. Little Free Libraries have sprung up around the world and become gathering places where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. It is a story of achieving a variety of goals for the common good – and the story is spreading, which is where Melissa Wiegand, a teacher at Copper Canyon Elementary School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, comes in.

“I read an article about the Little Free Library movement to my classes,” says Wiegand, a teacher for 19 years. “After I read the article to them and showed them some videos, one of the kids said, ‘We should do this.’ All the students agreed. One of the kids put his hands out in the center of the group and said, ‘Everyone, hands in.’ Everyone put their hands in in agreement to do the Little Free Library.”

Fast forward a few months and the Copper Canyon branch of the Little Free Library is open for business. Led by classmates Daniel, Graydon, Joey and Shawn, the project required research, permission from Principal Kyle Shappee and Assistant Principal Stacey Orest. The fifth and sixth grade classmates created an iMovie to state their intentions, and once approval was achieved, continued to document their progress.

Along the way, a parent donated all of the building materials, as well as helped with the building itself, and the group enlisted another class parent to help paint the Library. The school community helped to stock the Library through a book drive.

“We collected 272 books in one week,” says Wiegand. “People have continued to donate books since then. Overall, we have probably collected over 500 books.”

In the true spirit of what books represent, the entire project was a learning experience for both the class and the school. According to Wiegand, the students learned that when people collaborate and communicate, a lot can be accomplished. Even the teacher received a lesson with this project.

“I already knew that we have a very supportive and involved community at Copper Canyon, but I didn’t expect the level of support that we received,” she says. “As soon as people started hearing about it, they were just as excited about it as we were. The PTA helped us advertise our book drive and even put a bin to collect books the Copper Canyon book fair. The teachers encouraged their students to participate in the book drive. It was really amazing!”

The Library is currently housed in the school lobby, but the District will soon place the Library in the front of the school – providing access for the entire community.

Learn more about the Copper Canyon Little Free Library project at Learn more about the movement at

Get into the literacy spirit! March 3 is Read Across America Day. Take the time to share your favorite book with the children in your life. Mrs. Wiegand’s Pick: Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina – a favorite when she was her student’s age. Learn more about Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) at

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