Valley News -

By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

'Little Free Library' in a Hemet front yard opens the world of reading to children


Last updated 11/22/2018 at 5:51pm

Tony Ault

Douglas Lyons and Barbara Silver show a few of the hundreds of books now available in their "Little Free Library," located in their front yard at 3843 W. Menlo Ave. in Hemet. The kiosk was built and installed by Lyons to offer passing elementary, middle school and high school students by a free read anytime.

Children from Cawston Elementary and students from Tahquitz High School were surprised while returning to school after Veterans Day to find a new kiosk sitting in the front yard at 3843 W. Menlo in Hemet.

The kiosk was installed by retired English teacher Barbara Silver and her friend Douglas Lyons. They stuffed it with hardback and paperback books with inviting titles for all ages. Visitors to the new "Little Free Library" can choose a book to take home for free or just to sit down under a shade tree and read after school.

There to greet them at the grand opening, Sunday, Nov. 11, was Silver and her Maine Coon mix rescue cat, Thomas. Silver is a retired English teacher from the Garvey School District in Rosemead. She said she moved to Hemet five years ago, loves to read and has obtained thousands of books for students of all ages over the years.

With the idea of sharing her library with local students, she came across a "Little Free Library" in a trip the couple made to Italy. She said she saw a truck with free library books driving from one town to another for anyone who wanted to read. Upon returning to home, she found out online about the "Little Free Library" project.

The "Little Free Library" is not a new idea, offering 75,000 small libraries in homes and neighborhoods across the nation. It encompasses buildings and outdoor kiosks, like those at Silver's home to house an exchange library for anyone passing by. It is designed to encourage reading among children and students who do not have the means to buy their own books and do not have a public library nearby, according to the organization's website.

The idea of the "Little Free Library" is for students and people take a book from the kiosk for free.

"Then if they want to bring it back or they can bring another one of their books to trade it in," Silver said.

Douglas, an avid reader himself, liked the idea as well, he said, and set to work building the kiosk, setting up chairs and benches and adding a little children's reading box that converts into a seat in their front yard. They said that Thomas claims the children's box as his own on occasion.

Lyons said that having the Little Free Library in their front yard is a great location.

"We get an awful lot of traffic here, especially when Cawston (Elementary) gets in and out. So a lot of high school and junior high students walk past here," Lyons said. "We've got a great location. We're not one of the back streets out here. We are big one. It's a big street, and you can park on it."

Tony Ault

Douglas Lyons holds his cat Thomas, who is familiar to students from nearby Cawston Elementary School in Hemet. Lyons, a marine engineer, and retired English teacher, Barbara Silver, love to read and share the "Little Free Library" to passing students in this kiosk at 3843 W. Menlo Ave in Hemet.

The couple likes the motive behind the Little Free Library, that the "community wants to own it," Silver said. She said the children from the local schools already know about it, and there are several other small libraries in the community located some distance from the city's Public Library on Latham in downtown Hemet.

Then too, Silver said, "I want to be able to share my love of books and my reading and my sense of curiosity with kids. I love to read books to kids. I love to tell stories. I'm hoping with some of the adults to get together some book clubs."

The kiosk in front of their home is always open to those who wish to use it, and Silver said she will be there to read and talk with the children about how much books and reading have to offer their great imaginations and dreams through reading. Reading, that hopefully will help show them a way to become a contributing thoughtful member of society with the love of books, Silver said.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at [email protected]


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