In celebration of the release of my picture book, Lila Lou’s Little Library, two years ago, my family built our own little library in our front yard. It had always been a dream of mine to have a little library to share with my neighborhood. We even had a grand opening where I read Lila Lou’s Little Library to the children, then we cut the red ribbon across the little library for all to enjoy.
The word “little” doesn’t best describe our library. It is rather large having three shelves to hold picture books, middle grade novels and YA and older reads. Something for everyone. And everyone visits! All ages stop by to find something to read. A highlight in my day is when I look outside and see someone from my neighborhood sitting on one of the log stumps looking through a book. I have to contain myself from rushing outside to see what book they have chosen from the shelves. I don’t want to be a crazy book lady, but nothing gives me such joy as to hear from someone who has loved a book I put into the little library.
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When I set up the little library, I wanted to make it a welcoming place for others. Three large log stumps were placed out for visitors to have a seat. A goal of mine down the road is to have a beautiful cedar reading bench built beside the little library. Each season I put out decorations and season themed books. Where do I find all my books? Well, I am like Lila Lou, too. My house was filled with books. And what good is having a house filled with books if others can’t enjoy them also? Friends have stopped by to fill up the little library with books they have finished reading. Neighbors are also enjoying leaving book surprises for others.
Giving of my time and books has in turn given me a beautiful gift. There were neighbors I had never met until the little library went up. Now, the little library is a place where we gather for visits. I’ve met new book friends. And just like Lila Lou, I’ve found new books to read that others have shared. We even started a neighborhood book club that would meet once a month.
Many readers have commented over the past couple of years that they see themselves in Lila Lou. They are also surrounded by the books they love. There is something comforting about books. Books take us away on adventures, inspire us to dream, give us hope during difficult times and connect us to others. When we share books we love, we share a part of us and allow others to have a glimpse into our heart.
Are you ready to build your own little library? Build it…and they will come!
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Nikki Bergstresser is an educator and author of children's books. Her picture book released through Cardinal Rule Press, Lila Lou's Little Library contains themes of activism, generosity and community. Seasons for Stones, shares with readers the power of a young girl's kindness as it ripples through a neighborhood.
Nikki lives on the west coast of British Columbia Canada with her husband, two daughters and a plethora of critters. She facilitates online book clubs, instructs writing classes for children and presents literature seminars for parents and educators.Inspiration for Nikki's writing comes from spending time in nature, traveling to new places and spontaneous adventures. She believes taking small steps will lead to beautiful journeys. Connect with Nikki on IG @nikkibergstresser.