As you grow up and your bookshelf begins to overflow, you may need to get rid of some older books to make space for the new ones. I recently cleaned off my bookshelf and began thinking about where my old books could go. I didn’t want to throw these great books away. Instead, I wanted to donate them so that other kids could enjoy them as well. Because nearly all of my books were horse books, I began thinking of a way to let other horse-obsessed kids read them too.
Seeing book boxes in front yards in my community, I was inspired by the Little Free Library program to create something similar for horse books where horse-crazy kids could easily access them. The Little Free Library program is a free book exchange, where anyone can take a book or leave one for others to enjoy. I decided to create something similar to this but specifically for kids who love horses to share their horse books. I thought that having a box similar to the Little Free Library, but specifically at a barn and containing horse books, would be a great idea!
Unlike a Little Free Library, a Barn Book Box might not be open to the public since it may be placed in a barn and accessed only by barn clients. The Barn Book Box also only features horse books intended to appeal to horse crazy kids who love to read. Finally, a Barn Book Box may be used to bring different age groups together with older kids sharing their favorite horse books with younger riders. Many schools require students to participate in summer reading programs, and often students can chose books that interest them. If you love horses then you probably want to read some horse books over the summer.
Creating a Barn Book Box is easy! I suggest getting a large, clear, plastic bin that has plenty of space for books as your library grows. A plastic bin will be sturdy enough to hold up to conditions in the barn, and if it’s clear people will see the books and become interested in your library.
I purchased a bin with a locking lid for less than $10
(photo by Holden Rafey)
Find some of your old horse books to add to the collection and ask your barn mates if they have any books they would like to contribute.
Some of the books I pulled off my shelves
(photo by Holden Rafey)
You can put a sign on your Barn Book Box explaining how it works; you can download a copy of the sign I made from the image below. You can also decorate your box so that it draws attention and doesn’t get lost! I puffy painted the box’s lid, and it was fairly easy.
Barn Book Box sign
(Download a PDF of this sign here)
You can also add a bookmark to your favorite stories that explains why they’re so great. This can help encourage others to read your favorite books, which may become their favorites too! One of the bookmarks I added was to the novel Believing in Horses, because it is a fantastic story written by my mentor for this blog, Valerie Ormond. The book also features real places in Maryland! Another book I marked is The Black Stallion because it was my favorite book when I was younger. I loved the book so much that it inspired me to have my 7th birthday party at Laurel Park racetrack. I wrote a blog post about my love of the book and my experience at the racetrack, and you can read it here. I also marked Misty of Chincoteague because it was another of my favorite childhood books. I was fascinated by the story of the wild horses living just a couple of hours away, and I even rode a horse from Assateague when I was at Rock Creek Park Horse Center.
To inspire the next reader, I added bookmarks to three of my most favorite books
(photo by Holden Rafey) (Download a PDF of the bookmark here)
Place the box somewhere that's easily accessible and visible so people will know about it and want to borrow books and/or contribute their own books. Wherever people tend to congregate at your barn - whether it’s the office, tack room, or somewhere else - that is probably a great place to put your Barn Book Box. Also, if possible, putting it down low will allow younger children to pick out their books easily.
Our Barn Book Box is on a center aisle grooming station, ready for use!
(photo by Holden Rafey)
The creation of a Barn Book Box at your barn is a great way for people to re-purpose old books and encourage children to read. This can bring a barn together as older kids share favorite horse books with younger riders at their barn. I hope you will give this a try.
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information of interest to MHC youth members and young readers. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am serving a third term on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and have served as an intern for the American Horse Council.