ONLY ON KOLD: Little Free Libraries in Old Pueblo bring people together

Little Free Libraries pop up around Old Pueblo, make for safer community

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Many of us check out a book to read when we want to escape from reality.

But some Tucsonans are using them to check in to the real world and getting to know those around them who make up their community.

Every morning, the Keiths and their children, Love and Roreich, wander around the Garden District in midtown.

The kids zoom down the street in a small battery-operated car, zooming around with a need for speed.

One little house, though, gets them to stop to fill another need -- to read.

“They love bringing home a new book because we read one every day before bed,” Pearl Keith said. She’s Love and Roreich’s mother. “They love bringing it home and being able to read it, return it, and get a new book.”

‘It’s such an easy way to get books’

Their stop is only around the corner from the Keiths' home, where Kha Dang runs his Little Free Library.

He has done it for the past year, and has gotten to know the people from his neighborhood.

"It’s become a friendly neighborhood. We talk to each other. That’s very important to me,” Dang said.

He made it clear it’s important to know one another and to promote literacy for children, especially those who have a hard time getting a hold of a book.

"Children don't have the money to buy books. It's such an easy way to get books to exchange,” he said.

It wasn’t easy for Dang to get books growing up, either.

He lived in Vietnam while the French were in control and says books were forbidden.

Dang read in secrecy and fell in love with literature.

"I explore so many new things. The people around the world. ... That’s why I like it very much,” he said.

Dang started the next chapter of his life when he was a teenager and moved to America.

Today he’s proud of his pop-up library.

‘It’s a great connector between generations’

It’s more than just taking a book or leaving one. These Little Free Libraries add a sense of community. They’re doing that worldwide.

Little Free Library is a non-profit with more than 75,000 of these book-sharing boxes all over.

Several dozen of them have popped up in Tucson over the past decade.

Meg Johnson runs another one of these libraries, just around the corner from Dang’s.

She's seen the differences they have made.

She said, "It's a great connector between generations too. It makes sure that our senior population has company and visitors every day."

It’s a special bond that Dang and the Keith kids can attest to.

One that Pearl Keith is happy to be a part of; each day they share time together making meals and memories.

"To have the kids be able to meet Kha -- a different generation. They love Kha so much, they even invite him to their birthday parties,” Keith said.

The end of a visit is never the end.

It's simply a bookmark until the next day, when the next adventure begins.

The very first Little Free Library was built in Wisconsin in 2009.

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.