Easy Activities for your Little Free Library

By Megan Hanson

There’s a growing body of research that shows when you focus on being kind to others, rather than doing things for yourself, you feel happier and more positive. It’s like the kindness you put out into the world comes back to you! Starting a Little Free Library book-sharing box is a wonderful way to give back to your community, but if you’ve got the time and resources, why not surprise your visitors with a little extra kindness sometimes?

Share Grand Opening Gift Bags

Steward Jodi Clark Caraccio recently held a Grand Opening Ceremony for her Little Free Library #98784 in Lake Worth, Florida. (Lake Worth has a ton of little libraries and a cool system for keeping them stocked!) Her granddaughter excitedly helped her cut the ribbon. While not everyone showed up for that moment, people stopped by throughout the day and the kids were delighted to find some special gifts waiting for them.  

“I put out gift bags. I wanted them to be easy to grab so that people didn’t touch shared surfaces. I had sidewalk chalk, a bottle of bubbles, and a snack size bag of cookies or pretzels in them. I put some of the extras in the library, and the bubbles were taken right away!” says Jodi.

Mail Postcards and Put Out Activity Sheets

Steward Sandra Van Horn in East Hartford, Connecticut, came up with a smart way of spreading the word about her library: she mailed postcards to her neighbors!

“Kids started coming before the mailman had even finished delivering on my street!” she says. “Two teens came to my door and thanked me, then offered to volunteer around the house for me; another came with a handful of books. An elderly man came to the door questioning if I sent him the postcard and then said ‘Are you kidding me? I can’t believe you would offer to do this!’ We then had a nice coversation and he offered to donate a large collection of Harvard Press classics.” 

Since then she’s started putting a variety of activity sheets (mazes, word searches, dot-to-dots), coloring books, and easy crafts in the library. She often uses Google to search for “free books” or “free printables” when looking for activities to include.

“Crayola and Scholastic are good resources for freebies, as are the USDA and EPA websites. I’m sure other government divisions offer freebies, too. I’m hoping the kids will tell me what kinds of activities and crafts they’d like to have,” she says. “I guess the whole idea of making all these bonus things came from my positive response at Halloween. I made gift bags for the kids with crafts and toys … they were blown away. EVERYONE said thank you and I could hear them talking about their surprises as they walked down the street!”

Giving out books on Halloween in addition to treats is something many stewards do, learn about trick or treat and read events.

Label Books to Increase Donations and Returns

Deborah Masterson discovered an easy trick to significantly increase both book donations and returns at her library #94611 in Hawaiian Paradise Park in Hawaii.

Deborah says, “Aloha from the ‘Awapuhi Little Free Library & Labyrinth! Whenever I stop by to check our Little Free Library, about 3-4 times a week, I add a simple label to any book I find without one. This way, people understand how the library works and are encouraged to return the books they take. Or, if they pass a labeled book on, the new custodian can find out about the library if they don’t already know. Win-win-win!”

We have many more craft and activity ideas for you, or if you’re not a steward yet but want to be, learn how to start a Little Free Library.

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