7-year-old shares love
of books with free library
When the Parmleys decided to put a little free library outside their house, it was 7-year-old Madalyn who served as the driving motivation.
“When we lived in Great Bend we frequented quite a few of them,” mother Andi Parmley said. “They had them all over town. She loved sharing books with other people, and she loved that other people were sharing books with her.”
Madalyn’s reason is simple.
“So they can learn how to read,” she said.
Madalyn said her favorite books are stories about butterflies.
The free library includes some books for adults, but contains mainly children’s stories.
Providing quality reading materials for all ages is a promising sign, community member Margaret Wilson said.
“I opened it and really flipped through them,” she said. “There are some good children’s authors in there, which makes me happy. They’re not just something somebody picked up at the dollar store.”
While the repurposed newspaper vending machine is described as a free library, a more appropriate term might be a book “donation bank.” Madalyn has several boxes of books waiting to go into the machine, and her father, Travis, says they don’t need more anytime soon.
“I have more books than I can fit in there,” he said. “If they don’t leave a book, that’s actually what I would prefer right now.”
The Parmleys put effort into their free library, but a book exchange could be as simple as a table with books on it, Wilson said.
“Especially in the summer time when children do have some free time and could be reading,” Wilson said. “I know the library is heavily used in the summer, but certainly not as much as I’d like.”
Having worked as a teacher before moving to Marion, Wilson hopes the free library catches on and turns into a local trend.
“I think that’s incredibly generous of them,” she said. “For a lot of families that’s not a priority. In times when they don’t have access to a school library or public library, what a generous thing.”
Madalyn regularly goes out to see which books are being taken, and she decides which new ones to put in with her mother.
“We were proud of her,” Andi said. “She’s always been one that loves to help other people. When she has something extra she can share, Madalyn’s always excited.”
They even try to keep books stocked to fit the seasons, Andi said.
“We have lots of Christmas ones we try to save for Christmas time,” she said. “Right now we’re trying to put more spring-themed ones in there. I noticed somebody left some Christian books, which I think would be really helpful in a time like this.”