Action Book Club Stories

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When Action Book Club members share their experiences, they inspire others to spark positive change in their own neighborhoods. Here are a few of our favorite stories of how Action Book Clubs are turning good reads into good deeds!

Cleveland OH Action Book Club

Cleveland, Ohio

Book: Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building by Scot Ritchie

Action: Starting a school recycling program

Project Details (click to learn more)

This third-grade classroom at Bolton Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio, was one of the first groups to sign up to become an Action Book Club. Led by teacher Robin Palmore, the entire class read copies of the book Look Where We Live! A First Book of Community Building, which were generously donated by a local TV station.

The class then looked for a project that would improve their school and benefit the surrounding community. They decided to implement the school’s first-ever recycling program.

“After walking around the school, taking inventory, and asking questions, we noticed a lot of waste of resources in our school. We found out that our school does not have a recycling program,” says Mrs. Palmore. “We signed up at Pepsico Recycling and began to recycle water bottles. We set a goal from now until the end of April for 15,000 bottles.”

Learn more about their project (and read a note from author Scot Ritchie!) here.

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Book: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Action: Collecting new socks for those in need

Project Details (click to learn more)

In Louisiana, Alysson Foti Bourque led an Action Book Club for elementary students in pre-K through 4th grade at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. They collected more than 100 pairs of new socks for a homeless shelter and a center for abused women. (Since it happened in October, they called their project “Socktober”!)

“This was such a rewarding experience where we all had an important part of the ‘action,’” says Alysson, herself a children’s book author. “All the kids worked together to help the community in need, and the shelters were so thankful for the kind gesture.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club Minneapolis Bikers Success Story

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Book: One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun

Action: Volunteering for a city bike patrol program

Project Details (click to learn more)

Joining the Action Book Club is a great way for existing book clubs to give back to the community. This book club, which had already been running for two years, volunteered for the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail patrol program, which monitors a five-mile long urban bike trail that cuts through many neighborhoods in Minneapolis.

“By keeping eyes on the bike trail, we’re helping ensure the safety of other trail users and neighborhood residents. It is a great way to be a Minneapolis ‘good neighbor,’” say Sage Dahlen and Will Wlizlo, the founding members of their club.

Cleveland OH Action Book Club

Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Canada

Book: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Action: Volunteering to cook at Ronald McDonald House of Central Alberta

Project Details (click to learn more)

“As soon as I heard about Little Free Library’s Action Book Club program, I knew the ladies in my book club would love the idea, because they all have such big hearts!” says Candice Putnam.

After reading a good book together, Candice and her fellow Action Book Club members decided to volunteer at a Ronald McDonald House—a “home away from home” for families of children receiving vital medical care at the Red Deer Regional Hospital in Alberta.

“Volunteering for this program involves planning a meal, purchasing the ingredients, and cooking everything on site for families staying at the house,” Candice says.

“We even got to sit down and enjoy the meal with everyone! It was a blast, and it was truly heartwarming to hear how much each and every person appreciated our group’s efforts and those of the countless other volunteers who cook at the Ronald McDonald House on a regular basis.

“For these families, who are spending long days at the hospital with their children, simple things like a delicious, home-cooked meal can make all the difference. This was our first time volunteering for RMH’s ‘Home for Dinner’ program as a group, but it definitely won’t be our last!”

The hardest part of their task, says Candice, was deciding what to put on the menu. Final decision: Ribs!

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Las Vegas, Nevada

Book: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

Action: Painting “kindness rocks”

Project Details (click to learn more)

In Las Vegas, Terina Chinn and her children formed an Action Book Club of four. Their small but mighty group chose a simple project packed with heart: They painted “kindness rocks” for their diverse neighborhood.

Kindness rocks are smooth stones that are painted with uplifting messages then left in random places for others to find. The goal is to brighten someone’s day and inspire them to spread kindness, too.

“I chose this activity because it was doable, especially having a three-year-old in the group,” says Terina. “We found some rocks in our neighborhood and painted them at my house after reading the book and discussing the differences between our family and others.”

This Action Book Club is a fantastic example of how small deeds have the potential for big impact. Each rock they leave for someone to find helps create a ripple effect of positivity.  

Terina has some great advice: “Start small if you’re unsure where to begin. There’s nothing wrong with doing something you’re comfortable with before trying bigger things.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club Minneapolis Bikers Success Story

Sugar Land, Texas

Book: Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Action: Book drive to support school libraries affected by Hurricane Harvey

Project Details (click to learn more)

Belén Kennedy helped her daughter’s summer book club become an Action Book Club to “teach them to look outward and to help others,” she says.

The group decided to hold a book drive to help refill the school libraries and classroom libraries that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. “We chose this activity because we knew that several schools in surrounding cities were very much in need of replacing supplies after flooding,” says Belén.

They set up the book drive in front of their local elementary school, so people could easily drive through and drop off books. While the group was concerned that they wouldn’t collect a significant number, since they planned the activity only three days in advance, it was a smashing success—they received more than 2,500 books!

Because they received so many generous donations, they were able to give books to several schools and organizations, including Books Between Kids, the Literacy Council of Fort Bend County, and a resale store that supports the Fort Bend Women’s Center.

Belén offers this advice to other Action Book Clubs made up of kids or teens: “Choose a community activity that they can connect to and/or that has meaning to them.”

Cleveland OH Action Book Club

Oxford, Michigan

Book: The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

Action: Donating juice boxes for a kids’ club in Detroit

Project Details (click to learn more)

This Action Book Club, made up of former teacher colleagues, collected juice boxes for The Power Company Kids Club in Detroit and Pontiac Michigan.

“We wanted to do things as a group that would make a difference in our communities,” says member Jane Saxon.

“We discussed the premise of the action book club as a group and one of our members jumped right in with an idea. Her idea was something that we were all interested in participating,” Jane says. “In the future, one of us will bring an idea to share. And then we’ll discuss how to proceed. We’re all looking forward to the next action!”

We love the advice Jane offers other Action Book Clubs: “Even small acts of kindness can make a big difference. When in doubt, do it.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

International Online Community

Book: The Blood of Angels by Johanna Sinisalo

Action: Working to help save bee populations

Project Details (click to learn more)

This online book club, based in New York, has nearly 150 members from around the world.

“I’m a firm believer in encouraging people to see how easy it is to do a good deed,” says organizer Beth McCrea. “The Action Book Club Program merges my love of reading with my devotion to charity.

“I researched and documented ways that our book club members from around the world could get involved in a variety of activities to help save the bees. I choose this as the activity since the topic of the Finnish fiction we read was bees. By showcasing 10 ways book club members could help, I made it easy for them to make a difference.

“Organization & follow through is the key,” says Beth.

Little Free Library Action Book Club Minneapolis Bikers Success Story

Kenmore, New York

Book: The Dinner by Herman Koch

Action: Dinner volunteers at a healthcare hospitality house

Project Details (click to learn more)

The Eclectic Readers Book Club in Kenmore, New York, has more than 400 official members. Facilitator Donna Young started the club via meetup.com ten years ago, and it’s been going strong ever since, with 15-20 attendees at each meeting. When she heard about the Action Book Club, she thought it would be a great fit for their group.

The club doesn’t strictly follow the Action Book Club recommended reading list (and that’s okay!)—instead they pick fascinating titles through a voting process.

“We read The Dinner for our July book club and took it literally,” says Donna. For their Action Book Club activity, they volunteered as the dinner crew at the Kevin Guest House, the country’s first independent health hospitality house.

This isn’t the group’s first Action Book Club activity. Previously they discussedThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, then organized a book drive for Children and Family Services of Buffalo.

Keep up the great work, Eclectic Readers!

Cleveland OH Action Book Club

Hopkins, Minnesota

Book: In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time by Peter Lovenheim

Action: Stocking a local food shelf with 99 “meals in a bag”

Project Details (click to learn more)

The Avenues Neighborhood Association in Hopkins, Minnesota, says their first Action Book Club project was fun and rewarding!

First, they read In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, which they call “a good story about community and getting to know your neighbors.” Then they chose to help their local food shelf, the ICA.

“Our book club’s neighborhood association, the Hopkins ANA donated $300 plus, individual book club members donated an additional $100.” says member Bonnie Quinn. “This enabled the ICA volunteers to shop with these donations and receive an excellent deal from our grocery neighbor, Driskill’s, to purchase food for the ANA Action Book Club volunteers to make/fill 99 ‘meals in a bag.'”

Other Action Book Club participants included Julie BoehmerWinslow, Lucy Arimond, Ann Van Sickle, Barb Weaver, Molly Cummings, Brian Hunke, Elizabeth Reynolds and videographer Bob Metoxen.

Bonnie says:

“The ICA K-Tel Drive location is impressive complete with shopping carts, aisles, checkout ‘registers,’ incoming food scale, warehouse storage, sorting shelves, and business offices. It is quite a production and has evolved immensely since its inception on Williston Road in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

“Our group then got to work—bagged 99 bags of supper tonight, all in one bag. These meals will be given to ICA clients as a special ‘bonus bag’ that can be offered (when ICA has them). Extra nice, because they contain everything for a complete meal with less stress, less pressure especially now with school starting up again.

“Looking forward to our next book read/community service project. As always…you are what you eat!”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Midlothian, Virginia

Book: Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Action: Painting rocks that represent caring and compassion and hiding them in a school garden

Project Details (click to learn more)

Twenty students from Robious Middle School make up this kind-hearted Action Book Club.

“We have had a book club for many years and we wanted to inspire our students to help others in the community,” says organizer Donna Wilson. “Our students love to create and make things so we ask for input from them to see what they would like to do.”

They chose a local twist on “kindness rocks,” says Donna:

“Painting the rocks with sayings and decorations was an idea that came from our city’s movement called RVA Rocks. Many families were painting rocks over the summer and hiding them in local parks for others to find. Our students wanted to paint rocks and then hide them for our students with intellectual disabilities. The book that we read had a teacher that showed caring and compassion for a student with Asperger’s so the rocks represented kindness towards others.”

Donna offers this advice for school-based Action Book Clubs: “Seek input from your students to find something that they are passionate about.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club Minneapolis Bikers Success Story

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Book: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Action: Making May baskets for neighbors

Project Details (click to learn more)

This Minneapolis Action Book Club gathered their children to join them for a fun project. Member Stephanie Kappel says:

“Our Action Book Club kicked off the season with A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. A good read about great neighbors, the book inspired us to rally the kids to make and deliver May baskets for our neighbors. Each basket brought a bit of spring to our community on the very cold and even snowy first day of May in Minneapolis!”

Little Free Library Action Book Club Bellingham Lemonade Stand

Bellingham, Washington

Book: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Action: Raising money for a local aquarium

Project Details (click to learn more)

Your Action Book Club doesn’t need to be big to make an impact. Eowyn Savela and her sons Harald and Theodore have a book club group of three. Their good deed? Harald, age seven, ran a free lemonade stand that accepted donations for the Marine Life Center, a local aquarium. (They also host a Little Free Library book exchange in their front yard.)

“I thought it would be fun, and it was!” says Harald. “I really like the aquarium. I might want to be a marine biologist when I grow up.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Book: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Action: Collecting healthy food for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Book: Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell

Action: Painting colorful pictures for nursing home residents

Credit: Photo by Brad Kemp, The Acadiana Advocate

Project Details (click to learn more)

At Academy of the Sacred Heart, an Action Book Club made up of Pre-K through fourth-grade students is brightening the walls of a local nursing home and retirement center with paintings they create in art class.

“I like giving to others and being kind,” kindergartner Ella Rose said in this delightful television interview.

The students were inspired by the book Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, which was read to them by parent Alysson Foti Bourque.

This isn’t the first project for the Academy of the Sacred Heart Action Book Club. Last fall, during the pilot program, students read Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and collected more than 100 pairs of new socks for a homeless shelter.

“This was such a rewarding experience where we all had an important part of the ‘action,’” says Alysson, herself a children’s book author. “All the kids worked together to help the community in need, and the shelters were so thankful for the kind gesture.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Kenmore, New York

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Action: Organizing a book drive for Children and Family Services of Buffalo, NY

Project Details (click to learn more)
“Because of the oppressive nature of The Handmaid’s Tale, we wanted to give back to children and women in our community,” says Action Book Club member Donna Young.
Little Free Library Action Book Club

Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Book: Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Action: Contacting elected officials to encourage continued funding of a local legal aid program

Project Details (click to learn more)

Recently, we learned of an Action Book Club that has been especially busy. A group of retired teachers and friends near Kansas City is on their way to completing three Action Book Club projects. We’re impressed!

First, they read Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, the true story of a Polish Catholic social worker who organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children during World War II. After reading the book, this Action Book Club chose to volunteer at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, helping to evaluate submissions to the White Rose Student Essay Contest.

“We chose this activity because of the Holocaust themes of resistance and rescue in the book,” says member Cathy Blake.

For their second Action Book Club project, they read Books for Living by Will Schwalbe and donated books and toys to a local homeless program. Next up, after already reading Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Small Things: A Novel the group plans to contact their elected officials to encourage them to continue to fund Legal Aid of Missouri.

Cathy offers this suggestion: “Choose books and activities that you enjoy as well as those that may provide new genres and experiences.” Her other words of advice? “Keep it up!”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Ventura, California

Book: What’s the Buzz Honey Bee? by Robin J. Smith

Action: Helping restore bee populations by giving away wildflower seeds

Credit: Photo by Creative Commons

Project Details (click to learn more)

“We are adding seeds to the [Little Free Library] to help neighbors add clover and wildflowers to their yards,” says Action Book Club organizer and Robin Smith. “Bookmarks in the books in the lending library also outline easy ways people can help the bees and beekeepers—such as not wasting food that bees help grow through pollination, buying local honey, and planting bee friendly gardens.”

Robin offers this advice to other Action Book Clubs: “You don’t need a large group, and you don’t need a huge project. Think of the ‘butterfly effect’ and how small changes can really help.”

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Marion, Ohio

Book: This is Where You Belong: the Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnic

Action: Serving as an information provider for local project MarionMade!

Project Details (click to learn more)
“Our community has suffered, like many, with losses of businesses, a downtown with many empty buildings and drug problems. But we also have much to be proud of but have forgotten how to do this,” says Action Book Club member Vicky Tabor Branson. “So it is our goal of our very new Action Club to be part of the community movement to share positive stories of what we do, are, and work for in our future endeavors.”
Little Free Library Action Book Club

Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Book: Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer

Action: Volunteering at the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education

Little Free Library Action Book Club

Maple Valley, Washington

Book: The Revolution Where You Live by Sarah Van Gelder

Action: Holding a “Sip-N-Swap” for community members to get together to talk about and trade books.

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