Try It In Your Town: The Little Free Library

How one family is bringing free books to a whole neighborhood

Stack of books on blue background Photograph by Heath Robbins

The Town
Champlin, Minnesota

The Family
The Schusters: Molly, Josh, Riley, age 8, and Rowan, 5

The Idea
Even the most reluctant reader would find it hard to resist the charms of the dollhouse-size library that the Schuster family of Champlin, Minnesota, maintains in their front yard. Mounted on a four-foot post, the library holds 45 books, which anyone can borrow at no cost, so long as they either return them or swap in another one.

Molly received the library as a Mother's Day gift two years ago from her husband, Josh. A woodworker friend crafted it, and Riley and Rowan, along with a crew of neighborhood pals, painted and decorated the outside. "I fell instantly in love with it," says Molly.

The Schusters aren't alone in this endeavor: their little library is one of more than 25,000 registered with the nonprofit organization Little Free Library (LFL). With a mission to promote literacy and a love of reading, LFL has sparked a grassroots literary movement--little libraries can currently be found in all 50 states and more than 70 countries.

How It Works
Each Monday, Molly and Riley stock their library with donated books for kids and adults, as well as magazines. While things are slower in winter, Molly estimates that a dozen people visit the library each week the rest of the year, plus a day care group comes on weekly field trips. The library even has its own Facebook page, with more than 200 followers.

"The community," Molly says, "has been the best part of this adventure for me." In addition to all the people she's met around town, as a steward (LFL lingo for someone in charge of a library), Molly has connected with other little librarians across the country and internationally. Through Facebook groups, they've shared ideas, swapped books, and done podcasts. She's even formed a friendship with a steward Down Under who has mailed Riley and Rowan two Australian-themed books.

Why Try It?
The appeal is simple, says Rowan. "People like to get more books!" The project, Molly adds, has increased the whole family's excitement for reading. "Now my husband, the kids, and I--we're always trying new books."

Now You Try It
Ready to start your own LFL? Find step-by-step instructions and other resources for new library builders at

    Two kids in front of a blue little library

    Riley and Rowan Schuster and their little library.

      Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.