Fourth-grader plans book drive for Little Free Libraries

Because his birthday lands during the week of the Martin Luther King holiday, Kenji Sakaie—a Roxboro Elementary School fourth-grader, Cleveland Heights resident, avid reader and Heights Library fan—along with his parents, wanted to recognize his special day with more than just sweets and treats. When thinking of an appropriate service project, a book drive seemed a natural for this family of book lovers.

Kenji will be collecting new and gently used books that he and his parents will distribute to the Little Free Libraries in the Heights and on Cleveland’s East Side. Any extras will go to Cleveland's Little Free Library program for its other sites around town. The book drive will run through Friday, Jan. 23.

While Kenji and his family especially want to encourage reading among children, they are accepting donations of any books donors want to share with others.

Book drive collection sites include Lake Erie Ink and Family Connections (both located inside the former Coventry School building in the Coventry neighborhood) and The Wine Spot at 2271 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

Little Free Libraries are decorated structures about the size of a dollhouse or a big birdhouse, in all sorts of cute shapes and sizes. Filled with books that all passersby are invited to enjoy, they are part of an international effort, launched in 2009 in Wisconsin, to promote a love of reading in neighborhoods.

Cleveland's movement was launched by the late Bob Cheshier of Cleveland Heights—grandfather of Kenji's dear friends, Tommy and Jonny Cheshier. Bob's hope was to have a Little Free Library near every Cleveland public school, and the movement is working to make that dream a reality.

If you prefer to make a donation to support the Little Free Library program, so that more of these wonderful resources can be built around Cleveland, you can send a check to Third World Books (specify that the donation is for Little Free Libraries Cleveland) , 2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44106.

For more information, send an e-mail to, and on Facebook, you can like "Little Free Library Cleveland Movement."

Joan Spoerl

Joan Spoerl is a community educator for Beyond Pesticides Ohio and an early childhood consultant, with more than 13 years of combined experience teaching kindergarten, Head Start, preschool and college. A proud resident of Cleveland Heights, she is Kenji Sakaie's mother.

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 10:20 AM, 01.13.2015