A guest blog by Jenny Scoullar.
A few months ago Chris and I stumbled upon Little Free Library. We were intrigued by some of the testimonials that we read about how these little libraries were making such a big difference and he wanted to see how Chater Publishing could get involved. I don’t think Chris realized just how much of an impact this seemingly innocuous collaboration would have on him, personally, and his writing…!
The benefits of reading, for both adults and children, are well known – increased mental stimulation (which may slow the progress of Dementia and Alzheimer’s), memory improvement, longer concentration, advanced knowledge, better writing skills and stress reduction to name but a few. So, what happens to the people in countries where having access to a library is not the norm, or low-income families who do not have the finances to provide books for themselves or their children at home? Enter, Little Free Library!
Little Free Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (recently named one of the top-rated non-profit groups by the Great Non-profit Organization) which has helped to build a network of more than 60,000 little libraries in over 80 countries worldwide. Anyone may take a book from one of these libraries or, indeed, bring a book to share – millions of books are exchanged each year across the globe. The libraries help to inspire a love of reading, spark creativity in those who partake and aid in building a strong community spirit. Even in countries where people have access to free libraries, like USA and UK, these Free Little Libraries are making a huge difference to communities, taking us back to a time when we used to talk to our neighbors, learn their names and invite them in for a cup of tea.
So how does it work? Well, if you would like to start your own Free Little Library in your community, there are five easy steps:
- Identify a location and someone to take care of the library.
- Build your own library or purchase a library through Little Free Library’s online ordering service (the libraries range from $69 to $2,500).
- Register your library so that you gain access to their support network.
- Let your neighbors know about your cool new library (they’re the ones who will be using it, after all!).
- Add your library to Free Little Library’s world map.
The city of Lake Worth in Florida has over 100 libraries for their population of 30,000 to enjoy – something for your community to aspire to perhaps?
If you don’t have the time to start your own library right now, you can either donate financially through their website (your donation is tax deductible!) or you can use their world map to find a library near you and drop off some books. And that’s exactly what Chater Publishing did in September this year!
Chris decided that he wanted to donate some of his self-published books. I pulled up the world map and realized that there were a handful of Little Free Libraries in the area that he had spent his formative years, so we decided to take a trip down memory lane.
It was an inspiring and moving day because Chris hadn’t been back to that area since he left as a young adult. It was great to see all the old houses that he had played in with his friends, the curbs on which he had attempted (and failed!) some advanced skateboarding tricks, and the lockers at his old school where he had stored his first journals. He found it surreal to be back in the place which, without a doubt, had helped to sculpt his personality and ultimately guided him towards professional writing. He felt proud to be donating books that he had personally written, and it felt strange for him to think that his old teachers, school friends or their children, depending on their age, might pick up and read his books. And, to me, the best part of all: he left a little note in all the books in the hope that it might inspire the next generation of writers to take the plunge and follow their dreams, just as he has.
"I grew up in this town wanting to be a writer, now you're reading my book.
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Christopher John Chater
But it turns out that it was Chris who was inspired! All writers will tell you that, from time to time, they will get writers block or “hit the wall”. When we made this trip, Chris was in the beginning phase of writing the sixth book in the Dating in the Apocalypse series and, as he will attest to, he was struggling. He had created so many wonderful characters in the first five books that he felt a huge amount of pressure to ensure that he did them justice in the final installment. But all that pressure was crushing his creativity and preventing him from writing.
Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that can create a block or, in this case, remove one. Chris enjoyed his day of reminiscing so much (he came home with a mind full of memories and a heart full of love) that his creative channels began to open again. Book 6 started to flow (slowly!) and he started to feel confident again in his writing. It was wonderful to watch the transformation!
Now Chris has completed the sixth installment, titled Ling: “The Scientist”, and he looks forward to donating the Dating in the Apocalypse series to Little Free Library once the final book is released later this year!
For more information on Christopher John Chater and to receive the first two books in the Dating in the Apocalypse series FOR FREE, visit his website.
You can also find him on