When 10-year-old Loren Williams craves adventure, she picks up a book.
“I like reading — it creates a whole new world inside a little book,” Loren said. “It takes me to another place.”
“She has a huge amount of imagination that she’s always had, and I think she finds different ways, through books, to experience and expand upon the imagination that she has,” Loren’s mom, Colleen, said. “She reads to explore other worlds.”
That love of reading is something that helped motivate the Windermere Elementary fifth-grader to start Loren’s Little Free Library in the town of Windermere.
It’s located right in front of the town’s historic Cal Palmer Memorial Building, and it was installed on Monday, Aug.12.
“My little free library works like (this): You leave a book and then you take a book and we have a guest book (that you sign),” Loren said. “The top shelf is adult (books), and the bottom shelf is for kids.”
The little free library combines Williams’ love for reading with a call to serve her community. Community service is something that runs in her family, as she’s the daughter of Windermere Town Council Member Andy Williams.
Andy said he built the little free library using reclaimed wood. He built it — with some help from Loren — in a way that mimics the architecture of the buildings in the town. Andy added that it “looks like a little house.”
“I used mostly reclaimed lumber — 90% of it is reclaimed — and kind of just styled it from our local buildings,” Andy said. “We kind of did it off the cuff. We didn’t really have plans and kind of had a vision of what she wanted. She wanted two sections, and they had to be certain sizes because books come in so many sizes. It took us a couple of months (to build it).
“I just think this project was a little bit about her love of reading, her inspiration to want to do something in the community and to bring the community together,” Colleen said. “She had been talking about this for a while. … She kept saying, ‘Mom, I want to do this. Mom, I want to do this.’ So it was kind of nice getting the younger generation in Windermere to be able to be a part of the growth of Windermere.”
Loren added her little free library is waterproof so the books stay protected from the rainy Florida weather and said she chose to decorate it with her school colors, blue and yellow. She said she’s been wanting to create her little free library since she saw one in a commercial on the Disney Channel a few years ago. After joining the National Elementary Honor Society at her school, she and her dad got the ball rolling on the little free library as part of a community service project for the NEHS.
“I’ve been asking my parents if we could do one for a couple of years,” Loren said. “I saw a little free library once (on TV), and thought it was really cool, so I wanted to do one. … And then I got in the Honor Society and they said we can do this (for community service).”
The little free library is just one community service project Loren has her hands on. She’s also involved in a project with other students at Windermere Elementary that is focused on cleaning up the lakes around the town of Windermere. That project is called “Clean Lakes Safe Wakes.”