There’s a large, colorful box sitting on the
front lawn of Francis W. Parker School 56. Perched on top of the brown-and-white
structure, adorned with yellow and blue doors, is a blue eagle (a replica of
the school’s mascot).


Although eye-catching, it’s not the design that
matters most, but what’s inside.Little Free Library


Open the multicolored doors and you’ll find
books, hundreds of them, in a variety of genres for different age groups — from
Nancy Drew to a biography of President Barack Obama. On Monday morning, there were
even a couple of stuffed animals and “touch and feel” baby books inside.


The Little Free Library was designed to give
neighborhood children access to reading materials during summer break. The goal
is to combat summer learning loss, which can set students back several months


Located in an inner-city neighborhood a block
west of Andrew J. Brown Avenue, the school is at least two or more miles away
from the nearest public library. So Francis Parker’s Parent Involvement
Educator Maria Wright knew she needed to bring books to the students.


Wright reached out to the leaders from the United
Way of Central Indiana’s (UWCI) Emerging Leaders program to build a Little Free
Library on the school’s campus.


UWCI and several community partners responded in
a big way.


Eric Knott, member of UWCI’s Emerging Leaders
Steering Committee and a principal at CSO Architects, volunteered to head the
project. In combined efforts from community partners and student scout group
the Webelos, they built a Little Free Library from recycled materials that is large enough to
hold nearly 300 books on the
school’s campus.


The students,
faculty and families of Francis Parker, a Montessori school, celebrated the
grand opening in late May, just in time to provide excellent reading material
for those long summer days.


“Our Webeloe Scouts worked with CSO Architects to
design the library knowing that our neighborhood children do not have a public
library within walking distance,” said Wright. “Hence, a big Little Free Library.”


In 2009, Todd
Bol built the first Little Free Library in his front yard as a tribute to his
mother, who was a teacher and avid reader. He built a small model-sized one
room schoolhouse and filled it with free books. Now there are thousands of
“take a book, leave a book” collections in coffee shops and public spaces
throughout the U.S.


Developed to
promote literacy, a love of reading, and to build a sense of community, Little
Free Libraries are affecting the lives of youths across the nation.


Through the Little Free Library at Francis
Parker, which is larger than most, the community has once again wrapped its
arms around the students of Francis W. Parker School 56, turning the school
community into a literacy-friendly neighborhood.


The library was made possible through the help of
the United Way, CSO Architects, Indianapolis Fabrication, 3Form, the Kiwanis Club,
school supporter Mrs. Rita Knott, and dedicated Webeloe scouts: Jaylen L., Kessler G., Tyler H., Branston
E. and Quinn S.


Want to get
involved? You can contribute books to your local Little Free
Library or check out the website to see how you can start one of your own!