Little Free Libraries and Positive Aging Picture Books

LFL-logo-VERTHave you noticed? There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the world and it’s related to books! Real books. Lots of books. Free books. Perhaps it’s landed on a street near you? Little Free Libraries are cropping up everywhere—small boxes of great creative design filled with books just free for the taking!

It all began in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009 with the first one planted by Todd Bols in honor of his mother, Esther, with its tiny sign, “Take a book, leave a book.” They spread faster than rumors of free donuts and there are now an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 sprinkled around the world. More are popping up in the front yards of homeowners every day. They’re incredibly varied and adorable and I guarantee you will succumb to Little Library envy once you peek at the photos on their Pinterest boards or FaceBook page.1234724_570549956316041_1571120140_n

Recently, co-founder Rick Brooks shared fun new efforts by some Little Free Library stewards—little libraries with a theme—dogs, local heroes, barbershop lore, the sky is the limit! This spurred me to finally pause and put my own ideas on paper (and print…) Rick was an early champion of “A is for Aging” and he and I have talked often about the benefits of including Positive Aging children’s books in Little Free Libraries to spark conversations between the generations.

Sparking Intergenerational Conversations

A Positive Aging children’s book highlights the positives of living a long life and avoids the age stereotypes so common in our society, even in books for kids. It’s important to promote positive attitudes to getting older starting at a young age. Unfortunately ageist language and attitudes have been detected even in very young children in research studies. Other important studies have found that taking in negative age stereotypes over a lifetime actually affects our physical health.


We can promote literacy right in our neighborhoods, promote positive attitudes to growing older along with good health, and increase interaction between different age groups.

So, how about Little Free Libraries with themes of:

    • Let’s Celebrate the Years!
    • Sparking conversations between the generations
    • Birthdays are Good for Your Health—the More You Have the Older You Will Get!
    • The Gifts of Getting Older
    • A is for Aging, B is for Books! (Just include my website please)
    • Or Your favorite Positive Aging picture book.

There are some powerfully positive organizations to be found on the internet these days with regards to growing older—I share four here today. Browse their websites and mine for more ideas. Click on the Art of Aging, Growing Bolder, or Senior Planet to learn more.

Decreasing isolation of older adults living alone–another positive

meena-4_croppedRecently Little Free Libraries began working with AARP to address the isolation of older adults living alone. Several non-profit organizations serving elders in Minneapolis/St. Paul have signed on to help—Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly and Lyngblomsten. Both are exemplary social ministry organizations that include outreach into their communities. Knowing them both well, I’m thrilled to have aided the collaboration in a small way and I can’t wait to see the results!

Bringing generations together, one book at a time

Summer 2012 322Both organizations involve many generations in their efforts. The intergenerational arts group at Lyngblomsten is sure to add a creative touch to their Little Free Library (watch for upcoming photos). Little Brothers enhances quality of life for elders with a large intergenerational corps of volunteers offering friendship. The first of their 20 Little Free Libraries just went up—this one outside their office in Minneapolis—“Bringing generations together, one book at a time.”

The very first Little Free Library honoring Esther Bols.

The very first Little Free Library honoring Esther Bols.



Honor someone special

Consider setting up a special Little Free Library including Positive Aging children’s books—and dedicate it to honor an older adult. Think about:

  • Honoring someone who enjoyed a long life
  • Honoring a special birthday
  • Honoring a special person on their birthday
  • Honoring a retirement
  • Honoring an older role model
  • Honoring an inspiring member of another generation

Miss RumphiusSuch a special library might also include books that were favorites of the honoree or on a topic dear to their heart.

  • Check out the Little Free Library website here. (Watch for “A is for Aging” in their revolving “ads” on the home page. Thank you Little Free Libraries!)

Photos courtesy of Little Free Libraries.

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