Cheryl Johnson first learned about the Little Free Library program while reading a magazine at the dentist's office in 2013. She tore out the article and brought it home. She was definitely interested in putting one in her front yard. Her family had recently lost a pine tree in the front yard during a storm and it seemed like the perfect spot for little library, right by the sidewalk. She shared the idea with her parents and her dad went to planning. The Little Free Library organization encourages the use of recycled items, so Cheryl's dad used an old cupboard, leftover siding from their house and leftover shingles when constructing the library.
Cheryl's little library is located in the Bailey's Grove neighborhood in Kentwood. Her neighbors have been extremely helpful in building a collection of books for the library. She frequently finds bags and boxes of books on her porch.
"I rotate books pretty regularly ~ seasonal, holidays, etc., and mostly have titles published within the last 5-10 years," Cheryl said. "Books that are older or don't usually get borrowed from the library, I donate to either KDL for their library book sale or to Goodwill."
Cheryl loves spreading the joy of reading to those in Bailey's Grove and the surrounding communities. She hopes that those who visit the little library will always have fond memories of taking a walk or pulling up in a car to find their next read.
"I've always loved reading and this feels an extension of me, what's important to me," Cheryl said. "I'm a picture book writer and putting books in kids' hands means the world to me and makes my heart happy."
Cheryl's writing 'office' is in her living room and she loves looking out the window and seeing individual kids, families and adults stopping by to get a book. She even keeps a container of dog treats in the library. Cheryl loves to see kids sitting down while going through books to find the right one. Sometimes they leave her notes and artwork.
For safety reasons, Cheryl shut down her library when COVID started and opened it back up when curbside service launched at KDL. During the time that it was closed though, it became a food pantry. Thanks to the generosity of her neighbors in Bailey's Grove, Cheryl made 10 runs to The Community Pantry (formerly Dutton Food Pantry)!
Thanks for your good work, Cheryl! We love hearing about the creative ways people share their love of reading.
Kent District Library offers several Free Libraries throughout our service area. These mini-libraries typically house around 40 books each, including youth, teen and adult fiction and nonfiction materials. People are encouraged to take a book and leave a book.