Four Ways for Des Moines Families to Love our Little Free Libraries Even More

Four Ways for Des Moines Families to Love our Little Free Libraries Even More

We are charmed by these little yard book boxes, aren’t we? There are few ideas more simple and winning than a Little Free Library (LFL): take a book, share a book. We love swinging open the tiny latch to peak at our neighbors’ reading habits, collecting a new chapter book for the kids’ bedtime rotation, dropping in last month’s book club pick.

The charm of it all is how I ended up in aisles of Home Depot I’d never seen before as I set off to assemble a LFL for Storyhouse. Sheets of plywood, hinges, plexiglass and caulking all to construct what is essentially a box. It’s harder than it looks. I overcame my terror of the circular saw.  I weather-proofed, sanded and stained its miniature walls; I etched our book bear logo into its side. 

So now I have this happy little home for books to share, be it a little wonky at the corners. Charming? Yes. But I’ve been curious about ways our collective fondness for LFLs dotting neighborhood corners can go a little further here in Des Moines. Here are some ideas:

Love local: Join up with Movement 515 and Good Vibes Movement’s DSM Little Free Library Project

Make sharing books an active part of your family routine. Movement 515 and Good Vibes Movement’s youth community service workshops are building 10 new lending libraries for Des Moines. See Good Vibes Movement’s call for donations

“…To keep going with our goal of uplifting our neighborhood, we are requesting book donations on topics of diverse cultural history, empowerment, or uplifting books with characters that may reflect a diverse community of youth of all ages. The books will fill little free libraries built and installed by the kids…”

Work with your little ones to select titles using this wish list curated by Des Moines Public Library. The list features representative books about joy, our true history, pride, hope, and ordinary things for all ages. Purchase the books and head over to Good Vibes Movement on Mondays between 4-6:30 to drop a stack off together.

Build a Little Free Library: Get your kids involved in creating something special

Build it from scratch, upcycle an old cabinet, or order a kit from the official LFL site – we all know that family projects are about the process of making something together and the conversations that happen along the way. Learn more about starting your own Little Free Library and get creative (Stick on wallpaper! Neon paint colors! Fairy garden features! Or rustic as an old mailbox!). Maybe instead of posting it in your yard, consider speaking to your children’s school or your favorite park about installing one? Maybe initiate an LFL project at a local community center?

If your family loves reading and talking about books, the best part is making a plan to keep it well-stocked. LFL has ongoing opportunities for book discounts and giveaways. I get a thrill from making a scavenger hunt of sifting through thrift stores for book treasures. Make an afternoon of it: say, today we’re looking for chapter books with strong female characters and let them go scouring the shelves of your closest Many Hands Thrift Market.

Or, let’s face it, if you have a book collection problem like me (the noblest vice), model the art of letting go to your young ones. Select favorite gems for your home shelves to share (this strategy also conveniently creates space to buy more books). Consider writing a little note in the book about what it meant to you to your family to share with the next person. 

Get inspired: Check out the Little Free Diverse Libraries project

You know it when you come across a LFL with a steward and neighborhood doing the most to keep it fresh with relevant and representative titles. 

School counselor Sarah Kamya started the Little Free Diverse Libraries project in her city at the beginning of the pandemic by filling her local lending libraries with diverse books. Now, people are donating books and cash, and she’s shipping hundreds of diverse titles to stewards across the country to stock in their little free libraries. See how @littlefreediverselibraries has exploded across Instagram where Sarah highlights diverse titles and encourages LFL stewards to start by, “thinking about your own community, who is represented, who is not represented and what books can you add to your library to welcome or educate those within the community.”

Launch Storyhouse Bookpub’s Little Free Library on Halloween

Storyhouse may not be a brick and mortar yet, but we’re growing by celebrating these tiny four walls and the ways reading can bring people together. 

We’d love to have you stop by and help us launch our new LFL and our hopes and dreams for keeping it stocked with great books. Mix and mingle with friends and neighbors on Halloween morning around all the best things: books, coffees, cookies, and costumes. 

We’re excited to be pouring DreiBerge Coffee, and Bay Laurel Baking Co will be serving up some of their most fallish cookies (complimentary!). Save October 31 from 10am – noon and Learn more here.

About the Author

Abigail Paxton is the owner of Storyhouse Bookpub and loves nothing more than handing the perfect book to a fellow reader at just the right time. She is an enthusiastic bookseller and writer, and in her spare-time, you can find her reading, running, or hunting out the best beaches in her 1957 camper with her husband & big fluffy dog. Follow Storyhouse Bookpub’s journey in Des Moines on Instagram @storyhousebookpub and at storyhousebookpub.com.


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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