Book exchange: One school’s experience

Posted on: 09/01/15 BY kate

Our 2015 project will be building and supplying simple book exchanges to communities in the UK. The very first have already been delivered in the first week of the school term. They will be hosted by Bearwood Primary School and will be available to the community as they will be sited in open to the public areas of the school playground. One of the boxes will be at a local cafe, Coffee Junction. Those at Bearwood Primary were made by the UK based charity, LFL Project. Click here for the blog by LFL Project’s Nick Cheshire.

Each box will contain information on where to find the local public library.

We asked the teacher behind the school application to the Siobhan Dowd Trust to write up why the school is doing this: 


With so many other distractions, how do you get children to fall in love with books?


As teachers we know how important it is to get them reading for pleasure as early as possible, but without a dedicated library space in school, we needed something different. We also wanted to surround our children with as many opportunities to read as possible. We decided to create an outdoor library; to combat indoor space limitations, and give children access to books and comics at free time such as playtime, lunchtime and home time. We also wanted to target parents who might be reluctant to take their offspring to an established library.

We discovered Little Free Libraries on an American website, and were soon thinking of ways we could adapt them to meet our needs within school and the local community.  We contacted the Siobhan Dowd Trust to discuss the idea and they helped us source, fund and design the boxes. Ours are colourful, eye-catching and weatherproof, like little homes for Mary Norton’s Borrowers.


Filling the boxes was easy.  Ours are filled with a range of books, some supplied by school, some donated by staff, children  and parents, and a monthly subscription to a series of comics ensures a regularly updated range of reading material.  Boys particularly enjoy a dip into the comics at playtimes.


We did need to think carefully about the positioning of our little swap-boxes to maximise their impact.  As our playground is open to the public at weekends as a car park, we knew the boxes positioned there could be accessed by families in their free time.  But we also wanted to extend the scheme within the community, to build reading behaviours and a love of books beyond our immediate environment.  A local charity run café, which is a real hub for the local community, agreed to host one for us and the scheme is going from strength to strength.


We are hoping to site another box within the community soon, when we can find a suitable host.  We are really excited by our Book exchanges and hope more will spring up across the area.  Watch this space….



Rachael Crofts, Assistant Head Teacher
Bearwood Primary School, Smethwick