The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.

Story: Library in a Box

By Heather Klassen • Art by Gladys Jose

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.
The paint brush icon represents creativity. For content about raising a creative child, look for this icon.
The holding hands icon represents caring. For content about raising a caring child, look for this icon.
The thumbs up icon represents confidence. For content about raising a confident child, look for this icon.
Libraries come in all shapes and sizes. In this story, Mateo makes a contact-free library for the kids in his neighborhood.

What’s this?” Mateo said, pointing at a wooden box on the sidewalk. The sign on it said Little Free Library. 

“I’ve heard of those,” Mateo’s older sister, Luisa, said. “People build them and put books inside. Other people take the books they want and add ones they’ve already read.” 

“I want to make something like that,” said Mateo. “For kids to trade books.” 

“What if it doesn’t work?” Luisa said. 

“Why wouldn’t it work?” asked Mateo. 

Luisa shrugged. “Maybe kids won’t notice it, or maybe they won’t want to share their books.” 

“I’d like to try anyway,” Mateo said. “Will you help me build one?” 

“Sure,” said Luisa. “I’ll ask Papa if we can use his tools.” 

Mateo ran inside to collect books while Luisa talked to Papa. 

With Papa’s help, they built a wooden box. They put a door on it and attached the box to a post. Then they dug a hole in their front yard and lifted the post into the hole. 

Mateo arranged the books inside the box and closed the door. “Now I just have to wait,” he said. 

Mateo ran outside three times that day to check. But each time, his books were the only ones inside. 

For the next few days, Mateo kept checking the box, but his books were still there.

“I guess you were right, Luisa,” Mateo said. “No kids want to trade books.” He kicked at the gravel. 

“I know you really wanted your idea to work, Mateo,” Luisa said. “I’m sorry it didn’t.” 

The next two days, Mateo didn’t check the box. 

“Aren’t you going to check your little library, Mateo?” Luisa asked. 

“Why bother?” he asked. 

Luisa shrugged. “Maybe someone decided to trade after all. You should look.” 

Mateo trudged down the walkway to the box. He opened the door. His books were gone and new books filled the box. “It worked!” Mateo exclaimed. 

Just then, his next-door neighbor Julianne waved from her porch. “What worked?” she asked. 

“My little library,” Mateo answered. “It’s full of different books.” 

“It’s a great idea,” Julianne said.  “I didn’t know about it until Luisa told my sister to tell me.” 

“Luisa did that?” Mateo asked. 

Julianne nodded. “She called all the older kids in the neighborhood and asked them to tell their younger sisters and brothers.” 

Mateo looked back at Luisa, who was standing on the front stoop. She smiled at him. 

My idea worked after all, Mateo thought. Luisa made sure it did. I’m so lucky to have new books to read—and an awesome sister.