Raising Driftless Kids

Ainsley Anderson

I love books. I grew up in a home where books were treasured. Messages were written in books when they were given as gifts and then those books became cherished mementos of occasions and people. I have notes written in books that were given to me by loved ones who are no longer with me. I cherish these books and share them with my children, as they provide a priceless remembrance of those who helped shape the person I’ve become.
My love of books also extends into a love of reading. I don’t get to read as many books for my own pleasure as I’d like to right now. Many times I am reading books to my children or reading books for school as I pursue my master’s degree in education. However, every so often I get a chance to dive into a new one. I am really happy when this happens, as it gives me a chance to model for my children how much I can really get into a story.
Often, along with having a love of books comes a love of accumulating books. My husband and I have a lot of books. Our children have a lot of books. I grew up in a home where books were everywhere, so to me a house doesn’t feel like a home until it is filled with books. I am trying to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, so I am keenly aware that there are books in my house that are destined to go elsewhere. Some will get donated to our local library’s book sale, some will get donated to my children’s school, and some of our books will get donated to Little Free Libraries.
I am looking forward to more traveling with my family this summer, as well as just having a more flexible schedule for at-home adventures. I am also looking forward to getting more reading time in with my middle child, who hasn’t quite developed an independent love of reading yet. I believe that he will get there with the right reading material. It seems like a good goal for a teacher-in-training to do some leg work.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to accommodate my children’s love for and need for reading during our travels this summer. Then, I thought to myself: What if we made a point of visiting Little Free Libraries during our travels to deposit the books that we read and find new ones? I wondered how many there are on our travel routes. A little research led me to the Little Free Library website, which has a registry and map of all of the registered Little Free Libraries in the world. WOW. There are so many out there! We are very fortunate to have many right here in the Driftless!
So, this summer I am looking forward to pairing my adventures with visiting some of these Little Free Libraries, sharing books with strangers along our travels, and helping my children develop a greater love of books and reading. I hope you’ll consider making Little Free Libraries a part of your children’s summer reading adventures as well!

Ainsley Rowe Anderson is a mom of three whose roots run deep in the Driftless Area mineral districts of Wisconsin and Illinois. She is the co-owner of Driftless Kids in Mineral Point and shares her thoughts on raising children in the Driftless in this space on a rotating basis with other columnists focused on education and kids.