No. 921


Many years ago I heard the late Earl Nightingale make a statement about reading that I have never forgotten. He said we should read for pleasure and we should also read for profit. More about this further down in the column.
Those of us who try to be well informed know that literacy is one of the major factors in a nation’s success and an individual’s success. In short, we can’t accomplish much of anything in our society if we can’t read. Given this fact, it is tragic to know that more than 40 million Americans can’t read or do not have minimum literacy skills. There is a movement taking place in our country that may change this picture a little, and I would like to help spread the word.
For me it first began several months ago when my friend J.L. Abbott of Mountain Home, Ark., sent me a newspaper article about a little “free” library that was established by the Methodist Church in nearby Norfork. The concept is relatively simple. A local woodworking craftsman had built a neat little wooden box, with ornate decorations, large enough to hold 30 to 40 books. He had also crafted a professional looking sign that said, “Little Free Library.” It was then stocked with good books, I assume from the church library or donated by individuals, and placed in an accessible location on church property.
At this point, individuals in the community were invited to stop by, peruse the offerings, select the books they wanted to read, and return them when they were finished. They could then take more and repeat the process as often as they wanted, as new books were constantly being added to the titles offered. I could see how this could be very helpful, especially for those who lived in areas where a large library was not close by, and for those who liked to read and maybe could not afford to buy books on a regular basis.
After reading this article I thought to myself, what a neat thing and a great ministry for this church to do. Then lo and behold in the March issue of American Profile magazine there was a front-page story about the “Little Free Library,” and featured numerous stories of individuals in areas all across the country that had done the same thing. The library designs ranged from simple to very elaborate and from just a few books to a large number. Still, each project had the same simple goal in mine: to help provide people with good, free reading material.
Later I learned that this idea was started in Hudson, Wis., when Todd Bol mounted a wooden container designed to look like a schoolhouse on a post in his yard as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and schoolteacher. As of February 2013, all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide have been involved in the literacy program. There are currently 5,000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world with an estimated 1,000 unregistered.
Now back to what I said earlier about reading for pleasure and for profit. First one must learn to read, and read and read some more. We get proficient at most anything we love to do. Most important of all, you must be very selective as to what you put into that marvelous mind of yours. I read to stay informed (profit) but I also read self-help and inspirational books that help me maintain a positive attitude and a balanced mental diet. I also read the Bible, as this provides a source of truth that nothing else can. If we don’t live and tell the truth, we are building on sand and it will not stand.
Is it possible you could develop a Little Free Library? For more information visit This site also contains a number of building plans for the libraries.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)