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It’s Little, It’s Free, It’s a Library


Janna Schneider wanted an easier way for neighborhood students to get books since no public library is within walking distance.

So the Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary School literacy specialist had a miniature library built.

Now a Little Free Library, in the shape of a wooden house and painted a glittery blue, stands in front of the activities center at Veteran’s Memorial Park, 48th St. SE, in Kentwood.

Built by a friend of Schneider’s, it is packed with books for all ages, flashcards and games, all free for the taking. The idea is, “Take a Book, Return a Book,” as stated on the structure’s front door, but Schneider encourages people to take and keep if they want.

Since early August, visitors to the park’s splash pad and playground have discovered the book exchange and borrowed a box-and-a-half worth of books.

Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary School literacy specialist Janna Schneider wanted to provide an easy way for families to get books
Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary School literacy specialist Janna Schneider wanted to provide an easy way for families to get books

As a reading specialist, Schneider is delighted. “I would like students to want to read for pleasure and I would like to see their parents reading too,” she said.

Books were donated by Southeast Kelloggsville and in the future will come from Kent District Library donations.

Schneider’s idea comes from the nonprofit organization started in Wisconsin to build as many little libraries as possible. According to the website, littlefreelibrary.org, there were more than 40,000 registered Little Free Libraries as of June in all 50 states and more than 70 countries around the world. Little Free Libraries can be purchased or built, receiving official certification through the website.

“This was my own dream to have kids reading in Kelloggsville,” Schneider said. “I love to read and I wanted to pass it on to them.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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