Chil­dren in­tro­duce Lit­tle Free Li­brary

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Lisa Reis­man

MADI­SON — Inside a bird­house-like struc­ture on a re­cent Satur­day on Green Hill Road in Madi­son, a best­selling memoir stood back-to-back with a Pulitzer Prize-win­ning play which nes­tled against a slim vol­ume on camp cook­ing.

Ear­lier that morn­ing, 6-yearold Nolan Zawecki added a copy of “Trunk Trou­ble” to the chil­dren’s sec­tion of Lit­tle Free Li­brary Char­ter No. 71558, among the roughly 70,000 lo­ca­tions in all 50 states and 85 coun­tries world­wide where the minia­ture lend­ing li­braries have popped up.

When he came back for the grand open­ing a few hours later, the early July sun was beat­ing down on the quiet, wooded block. The book, about a lit­tle ele­phant whose trunk keeps get­ting in the way of his ef­forts to have fun, was gone.

“Now another kid gets to en­joy it,” Nolan said. Then he took out a “Nate the Great” de­tec­tive story.

It’s all part of a 2009 ini­tia­tive in­spired by “take a book, leave a book” col­lec­tions in cof­fee shops and public spa­ces. Its mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to lit­tle­freel­i­brary.org, is to “in­spire a love of read­ing, build com­mu­nity, and spark cre­ativ­ity.”

Up­hold­ing that mis­sion at the Green Hill Road branch are its ste­wards, Ava Rose Ju­liano, 6, and Cece Bova, 8. Ava, who’s from Chico, Calif., has been vis­it­ing her grand­par­ents Su­san and Greg Ju­liano for the last three sum­mers. Cece is a neigh­bor on Green Hill Road.

It all started back in May. Su­san got a Lit­tle Free Li­brary model from her son Jonathan, 31, as a Mother’s Day gift. “We’re all avid read­ers in this house­hold,” he said, while sip­ping le­mon­ade on a lawn chair be­side the li­brary at the grand open­ing, as Nolan stole a glance at the first page of “Nate the Great.”

Then came the as­sem­bly. “It came all built,” Greg said. “I just added an ex­ten­sion, weath­er­proofed it, painted it an ex­te­rior

stain on the wood, and painted it Caribbean blue.” Once he’d installed the post, he and Ava ar­ranged pot­ted flowers on a bed of wood chips around it.

“We wanted to make it cheer­ful and invit­ing,” Su­san said.

Emory Bova, 11, Cece’s older brother, then ped­aled around the neigh­bor­hood, knock­ing on doors or leav­ing fly­ers about the Lit­tle Free Li­brary in mail­boxes. “I hate to read books, but I wanted to help,” he said, ad­ding that he prefers the daily news­pa­per.

By that time, Su­san had ap­pointed Ava and Cece ste­wards “as a sort of sum­mer project,” she said. As sum­mer jobs go, the gig is low-im­pact. Lit­tle Free Li­braries re­quire no li­brary cards. There are no late fines to as­sess. Ava and Cece won’t even mind if you don’t re­turn a book. And if you forget to whisper, it’s OK with them.

Plus, it seems, it’s fun. “When we check it in the morn­ing, it’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” said Ava. “If some­one took a book, it means they got a new book to read.”

And when some­one leaves a book, Cece added, “it means peo­ple have more choices.” Also, she said, “I love to read so it’s ex­cit­ing to share that.”

Chris­tine Ma­sick, mother of Cece and Emory, and a teacher at In­de­pen­dent Day School in Mid­dle­field, had another take. “A book from this lit­tle li­brary might spark a life­long pas­sion for read­ing,” she said.

“It should,” said Jan DeFrancesco, who con­sumes sev­eral books a week. “Read­ing is a great escape. It takes you to places and times you can’t oth­er­wise visit, and without the usual ag­gra­va­tions of travel.”

By then, a woman in a sun hat was brows­ing through the stacks. She slid out “Eat, Pray, Love” by El­iz­a­beth Gil­bert, then lin­gered to chat with the Ju­lianos.

“This is such a kick,” said Su­san, an English teacher in the New Haven school sys­tem for 38 years, as she of­fered the woman a home­made choco­late-chip cookie.

“There’s not a lot of ac­tion on this block,” she added. “That’s where books come in. They feed the imag­i­na­tion. That’s what I al­ways tried to teach my stu­dents. That’s what I hope to in­still in Ava and Cece.”

By then, Nolan was al­ready mak­ing his way home, book in hand.

Lit­tle Free Li­brary #71558 is lo­cated on 93 Green Hill Road in Madi­son and open 24 hours a day. All are wel­come. For more in­for­ma­tion about Lit­tle Free Li­braries, visit lit­tle­freel­i­brary.org.

Lisa Reis­man / For Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Emory Bova, Nolan Zawecki, Ava Rose Ju­liano, and Cece Bova at the grand open­ing of Lit­tle Free Li­brary No. 71558 on Green Hill Road in Madi­son.

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