Education News

It Looks Like a Birdhouse, But It’s a ‘Tiny Library’

About 50 tiny libraries are opening in Houston neighborhoods to give kids more access to books.


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Natalie Ketchum, with the United Way of Greater Houston, helps students pick out books from their new “tiny library” in Spring Branch ISD.


Dozens of elementary students are lining up to check out a book from their school’s brand new library in Spring Branch.

“We’re going to take this one home and you’re going to read it and when you’re done reading it, put it back here and somebody else can read it.”

That’s Nicole Ketchum with the United Way of Greater Houston.

She says this library is different from the main one on campus. It’s a “Tiny Library.”

The tiny libraries look like an “over-sized birdhouse” but are a home for books. Students can take one and leave one.

“Tiny Libraries are really great. They’re essentially an oversized birdhouse but instead of holding and being a home for birds, it’s a home for books,” Ketchum says.

The idea is to give kids more access to books. A study from the Handbook of Early Literacy Research shows that middle-class families have thirteen books for every child. But in low-income neighborhoods, there’s only one book for every 300 children.

This Tiny Library is painted blue and holds about 50 books. The United Way’s new group for young professionals built and decorated the structures.

Students can take a book and leave a book.

The lending system is strictly on the honor system — no library card and no late fees.

Second grader Andrew Garcia has already read the first page of his new book.

“It’s about this knight that comes in a castle and he saves two kids and it’s the Magic Treehouse,” he says.

The principal at Buffalo Creek Elementary, David Rodriguez, wanted the tiny library placed outside on purpose.

“That way they have it accessible over the weekends, during the summer, during the winter break, whenever it is. Because one thing that we do hear from our kids is that sometimes they have nothing to do at home. So we’d like to put those books in their hands and keep them reading,” he says.

About 50 more tiny libraries will open in Houston neighborhoods in the next several weeks.

The United Way of Greater Houston will be updating a map here as they are installed.


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