Walthamstow leading way in UK 'little libraries' trend (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Walthamstow has the largest network of Little Free Libraries in the UK
Walthamstow has become the UK birthplace of a craze created in America aimed at promoting literacy through free ‘little libraries’.
The concept was created by Todd Bol in 2009 when he built a small schoolhouse in honour of his mother, a former teacher and bookworm, outside of his Wisconsin home.
It grew into a free community book exchange, with readers replacing books from the schoolhouse with other works.
Former Walthamstow residents Nick and Rebecca Cheshire first encountered the concept while living in the US state of Georgia in 2013.
Upon their return to West Sussex, they tweeted the idea of heading up a similar UK project, with artists designing their own little libraries.
Within 48 hours, they received more than 60 responses from Walthamstow-based artists.
Mr Cheshire, 39, said: "The response was overwhelming and we both agreed Walthamstow had to be the birthplace of the UK project.
"Walthamstow has many different areas within it and there is a massive community of artists and makers already collectively working together.”
A dozen ‘Little Free Libraries’ have been established across Walthamstow to coincide with the launch of the 10th annual E17 Art Trail.
Cartoonist and illustrator Tim Reedy is one of the artists to contribute to the scheme.
Since he designed and installed his Rubik's Cube-style library outside his Brettenham Road home, dozens of books have been donated and it has become the talk of the neighbourhood.
Mr Reedy said: "I like the idea of promoting literacy for adults and children so I wanted to make sure it stood out and attracted children.”
Mother-of-two and former mental health worker, Kiko Honda-Powell, 37, designed her Little Free Library for the Walthamstow-based Eat or Heat foodbank in Jewel Road.
The Lancaster Road resident said: "It is a wonderful idea with so many endless opportunities to get kids reading.
"This is about re-introducing literature to children who are distracted by the modern-day lifestyle of gaming and online technology."
The Walthamstow project, costing £1,000, was self-funded by the Cheshires, who collaborated with Nick’s father, a carpenter, to build the 12 models.
There are over 15,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide and over the coming weeks, models will be installed in Leyton, Leytonstone, and Wanstead.
Click here to find out the full list of Little Free Libraries in Walthamstow.
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