CHARLESTON, Ill. — With an interest in sharing books with the community, Kyle and Chantel Thompson and their two children, Ainsley and Jack, set up Charleston’s first official Little Free Library.

Little Free Libraries are installations, normally birdhouse or mailbox looking setups, that follow a simple concept: “take a book, return a book.” Among the 40,000 libraries installed in this and other countries, people can either take a book from the box or leave a book following an honor system.

Kyle said the idea to set up one up themselves sprung up when the family including Chantel’s parents passed one while in a St. Louis park this summer. With many of books of their own, the kids wanted to share them, Kyle said.

“My kids were excited about (the idea),” Kyle said. “Both of their rooms are filled with bookshelves wall to wall.”

At the time, the family thought it was a good idea, but did not think much more of it. Then a couple of weeks later when the grandparents visited, they came down with a large mailbox that Alan Draves, Chantel’s father, constructed, setting into motion the addition of the library to Charleston.

With city approval, the bright yellow book box with an orange-colored trim door sits at Lafferty Nature Study Area on Douglas Drive next to the water tower.

Kyle said they filled the library so far by putting in books largely for toddlers and kids with some for adults.

Aside from cleaning out a chunk of books they owned to share with the community, Kyle said he had a personal interest in setting up the library site.

“As an educator, I have taken a kind of a personal interest, since I have had kids, in literacy and eliminating what might be called a world gap in kids,” Kyle said. “It is important to give kids access to books.”

Kyle said he hopes people feel encouraged as well to put in books. While he put in kids’ books, he said people can put in volumes for older readers as well. However, as the steward, Kyle said he will be monitoring to make sure there is not inappropriate content in the library.

Source: (Charleston) Times-Courier,

Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette,

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier.