White Earth Nation members Lila Berry (left) and Hannah Otto (right) with a young reader at a Little Free Library granted through the Indigenous Library Program, outside the White Earth Indian Health Services building.
The initiative will increase book access in Indigenous and tribal communities to help improve literacy outcomes and ignite a love of reading
(St Paul, MN) — June 6, 2023 — The Little Free Library® (LFL) nonprofit organization is thrilled to announce the launch of its Indigenous Library Program, which grants Little Free Library boxes and books where needed most in Indigenous communities and on tribal lands in the U.S and Canada. Working with Indigenous community leaders, LFL provides book-sharing boxes to locations where book access is key to improving literacy.
The initiative is led by LFL Program Manager Talia Miracle (Ho-Chunk tribe of Winnebago) and supported by an advisory group that includes Valarie Janis of the Lakota College Woksape Tipi Library (Bay Mills Anishinaabe), LFL board member Margaret Wood (Navajo and Oklahoma Seminole), and others who belong to or serve Indigenous communities.
“Little Free Library book-sharing boxes on Indigenous land in the U.S. and Canada can be significant to enhancing the education of Indigenous students and residents,” said Wood. “Indigenous reserves and reservations are huge ‘book deserts’…. Having access to books year ’round will be a game changer for residents of Indigenous lands.”
The Little Free Libraries and books are granted through an application process, with priority given to those with long-term ties to Indigenous communities. Although LFL has granted libraries to Indigenous communities in the past, today’s launch initiates an expanded commitment to making Little Free Libraries available in high-need locations serving Indigenous people.
“We are aiding in literacy efforts within our communities one book at a time,” said Janis, who stewards 11 Little Free Library boxes throughout the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Reading Native Voices
Studies show that book access is vital to improving literacy, and reading culturally relevant books can be equally important. The Indigenous Library Program grant packages come with two starter sets of books, one with 25 titles specifically focused on the Indigenous experience.
“Story and storytelling have always been honored and celebrated by the Indigenous peoples of this continent, but only now are our children and teens seeing young heroes like themselves respectfully reflected in books,” said author Cynthia Leitich Smith, curator of the Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. “We couldn’t be more delighted that Little Free Library is welcoming our kids into the world of readers by making available an excellent array of resonant, page-turning titles to be shared with Native families and communities.”
LFL’s Talia Miracle invites everyone to participate in the Indigenous Library Program launch. “Together we can create much-needed book access in Indigenous communities and celebrate books about the Indigenous experience.”
How to Get Involved
- Apply for an Indigenous Library Program grant if you live in or serve an Indigenous community in the U.S. or Canada.
- Support Indigenous readers by making a donation to the program.
- Share books by Indigenous authors in Little Free Libraries; find one with LFL’s mobile app.
- Enter the giveaway to receive a selection of Indigenous titles provided by Heartdrum/ HarperCollins; or a gift basket from Birchbark Books.
ABOUT LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
Little Free Library® (LFL) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds community, inspires readers and expands book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Library book exchanges. There are more than 160,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide in all 50 states and 120 countries. LFL has received the World Literacy Award plus honors from the Library of Congress, National Book Foundation and others. LittleFreeLibrary.org