Alter freshman donates Little Free Library

Centerville-Washington Twp. Park District benefits.Girl Scouts project shares love of books.

Lauren Shenk’s enjoyment of books began at a very young age, and an iconic story by Dr. Seuss had something to do with it. Now at the age of 14, she has finished a project that will encourage others to enjoy that same devotion to books. She has built and donated a Little Free Library to Robert F. Mays Park, a Centerville-Washington Township Park District property at 10553 Paragon Road.

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“My first favorite book was ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss because my parents read it to me when I was little every night,” said Shenk, a freshman at Alter High School.

Now “Green Eggs and Ham” is one of the books that she initially placed inside the Little Free Library, along with “Junie B. Jones,” “Magic Treehouse” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

“We were impressed when Lauren presented us with a plan to build, donate and maintain a Little Free Library in a Centerville-Washington Park District park,” said CWPD communications coordinator Carrie Dittman. “Not only did she build and donate the library herself, she plans to visit regularly to restock it with books as needed. She is an extraordinary young lady, and her donation will delight park visitors for years to come.”

A Little Free Library is a collection of books allowing anyone to stop by and pick up a book to read, and/or leave another behind to share. They come in all shapes and sizes, and the books are usually housed in a wooden compartment. Access to books is important to a lot of parents, including Lauren’s: Matt Shenk and Lydia Denslow Shenk of Miami Twp.

“When our children were younger, both my husband and I enjoyed reading to them every day. We especially enjoyed reading to them before bed every night,” said Denslow Shenk. “As they became older, we took them to the Centerville Library on a weekly basis. They enjoyed story time there, as well as the summer reading program, and especially enjoyed exploring the rows and rows of fantastic books.”

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Besides library visits, Shenk has had another positive influence in her life. She has been in Girl Scouts for almost 10 years. Her mother is her Troop 30329 leader. Lauren initiated the project to help her earn her Girl Scout Silver Award.

“We strive to make the world a better place and make a difference in people’s lives,” said Shenk. “The best thing about Girl Scouts is that the skills you learn, such as leadership skills, really do help you in the real world and the girls are truly supportive.”

Another skill she learned through this project was handling power tools like an electric drill/electric screwdriver. She also learned about research and time management; the entire project took around 50 hours to complete.

“Matt and I are both very proud of all her hard work on the Little Library,” said Denslow Shenk. “She learned many valuable skills while working on this project but I think what impressed me the most was the self-confidence she demonstrated when she set up a meeting with the Centerville-Washington Parks Department, prepared the meeting agenda, and then proposed her project.”

The Little Free Library was first introduced by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wis., when he built one in the shape of a schoolhouse to honor his mother in 2009. The concept has turned into a worldwide book-sharing movement. By November of last year there were 50,000 registered libraries in all 50 states and over 70 countries.

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