While the age old adage may be true that 'fences make good neighbors', courteous and conscientious neighbors can become some of your best friends. When it comes to living in a close knit neighborhood there’s nothing better than establishing lifelong friendships and relationships with those around you. Neighbors are not simply the people we wave to as we pull out of the driveway each morning, rather they are often our go-to village.
With most families no longer living in close proximity to one another, friendships with neighbors have fulfilled this role for many people around the globe. Not only will these be the people at your neighborhood barbecue on the fourth of July, the people who will trade-off babysitting nights, the people who will come over for game night, but also those whose children your children will become closest to. These are the children who will play in the street until dark together, have sleepovers together, and go to school together. Best friends and lifelong friendships are built in neighborhoods.
This new year consider giving back to your neighborhood, whether you have just moved in or have lived there for ages, by installing a little free library with a Sharing Library from Simplay3. This neat and innovative concept of sharing, caring, and creating connections with others has become a global movement you can participate in from your very own front yard.
What is a Sharing Library?
Let's face it, many of the local libraries of our childhood have closed. With books, magazines, newspapers, and basically anything in print following the online tech trend and moving to websites, e-books, and audio, the days spent searching the shelves of the local library for the perfect book (and hoping it is there because they only had one copy) are gone. Even if you still have a library nearby, chances are they now have more computers than books available for community use and even school libraries have now been renamed 'media centers' packed with more technology than actual books.
While there are both pros and cons to this new tech-heavy territory, there is still nothing truly like the experience of curling up with a good book, turning each and every page with anticipation, traveling to another place and time, and becoming one with the characters you are so eagerly following. Sadly, swiping right just doesn't have the same affect.
A free library is exactly what is sounds like. It is a place for books, a place for gathering, a place for sharing and caring, bonding and community, it is a place to encourage literacy, reading, and an appreciation for great books.
How does a Sharing Library Work?
Take a book, leave a book is the general premise for how a sharing library works. Essentially, a little free library is simply a community dropbox that can be used for almost any sort of exchange. Installing a sharing library in your local neighborhood or business is a wonderful way to inspire those around you to read, promoting literacy and having a positive impact in your community.
You can begin by filling the library yourself, but once popularity spreads, there are usually plenty of books filling the box at all times with others joining in and sharing their well-loved editions of books for all ages. As the moderator of the library it is always a good idea to cycle through the books seasonally to make sure there are titles appropriate to your liking in the library itself.
While a sharing library can be built out of almost anything, Simplay3 has developed a simple, attractive, durable Sharing Library that will protect its contents from the weather and is meant to last a lifetime. Made of double-walled plastic with a hinged door and magnetic closure, the Simplay3 Sharing Library is the perfect addition to your home or business and can be installed for indoor or outdoor use.
Ideas and Inspiration for using your Sharing Library
While promoting literacy and a love of reading is at the core of the little library or sharing library movement, there are many creative and seasonal uses for your sharing library that are perfect for bringing the community together, encouraging involvement, and simply inspiring positive impact or change in your little corner of the world.
Socks and Mittens for the Homeless
Winter is coming! Put up a sign or note that your sharing library will be collecting small items such as socks or mittens for the less-fortunate, making your box a drop-off point. You can them donate these items to a local shelter.
This inspiring movement would be perfect for Valentines Day. Encourage others to drop-off or pick up inspiring, handwritten letters of encouragement sharing love and light with those that may be in need. Put in a divider creating a section for adults and children, allowing small valentines or letters from Cupid that are more child-friendly to be shared as well promoting kindness and teaching the true power of a positive word.
Painted rocks have been all the rage lately with artists and amateurs painting and hiding truly incredible works of art designed to promote peace, positivity and happiness to those who find them. From inspirational messages, to holiday and seasonal designs, many of these painted rocks are making their way across the nation as people hide and seek these rocks, re-hiding them at locations across the world connecting all humanity.
Book and a Movie
In many neighborhoods reading has not been promoted as much as it should be, so a great way to encourage and inspire children and families to read together is the book and a movie combo. Since so many stories have been made into movies, search your local thrift shops for books and their corresponding DVD's then tie them together and put into the sharing library. As these are read, viewed, and returned, making their way around the neighborhood, kids will be encouraged to keep reading.
Summer Reading for Kids
Gather titles great for summer reading and create a summer reading challenge in your very own neighborhood. From thrift shops to donations to sale packages from many large publishing companies, you can create a fun and educational summer activity for the kids near you. Ideas include creating a card that can be collected (by age group) with a list of titles that kids can read throughout the summer, trying to read them all. Plan ahead for the school year and try to gather books that count for school challenges (such as Scholastic's Reading Counts Program) so the neighborhood children can actually take tests on and accumulate points and rewards for reading.
Forget the candy this year and pick up Halloween books for the kids. Fill your sharing library with spooky tales and creepy collections perfect for the Fall season.
Canned Food Drive for Thanksgiving
Remind everyone of everything they have to be thankful for this time of year by encouraging them to give to those who are in need. Collect canned foods to donate to the local homeless shelter or food pantry for Thanksgiving.
Letters to Santa
Bring on the holiday cheer with a fun and exciting activity by collecting Letters to Santa. Encourage the children in the neighborhood to 'mail' their letter to Santa by placing their letter along with a self-addressed envelope in your sharing library. Then as the library moderator either you, or a group of parents or even grandparents in the neighborhood, can reply to the letters and mail a letter from Santa back to each child bringing the magic and excitement of the holiday season to each and every young believer.
Sharing libraries are a wonderful way to instill a sense of community in your neighborhood or business while simultaneously promoting one of the most important things in life - literacy. A lifelong love of books, reading, and the written word is essential to our children's future, their education, their development, and their ability to grow and evolve into open-minded world leaders, which they will one day be. Books teach us about our past, our present, and our future. Literacy is the key to success at any age and sharing libraries are a great way to make reading fun and accessible for all.
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