Rotary members find good deeds in good reads
When Rotarian Todd Bol built the first “Little Free Library” – a small, decorated wood box mounted on a pole that allows anyone walking by to take a book to read or add a book to share – he didn’t imagine it would grow into a global phenomenon (his work was profiled in the March 2014 issue of The Rotarian). Now Bol and his not-for-profit group based in Hudson, Wisconsin, USA, have launched Action Book Club, a program that encourages readers to pick a book, discuss it, then do positive works inspired by their reading.
“Everyone has read a book that has inspired or changed them,” says Margret Aldrich, manager of the Action Book Club program at Little Free Library. “We wanted to give wings to that feeling and turn it into real action.” The Action Book Club site has a recommended books list – although clubs can read whatever they like – as well as discussion questions and service project ideas.
The Rotary Club of Hudson, where Bol is a member, immediately signed up. “I think of Action Book Clubs as ‘read, talk, and then do,’” explains Past President Kari Rambo, who’s heading the club’s effort with President Brian Hinz. “For us as Rotarians, that’s what we do.”
The 40-member club is reading “All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness,” by Sheila Hamilton. Rambo and Hinz chose the book in response to their community’s recent focus on recognizing and destigmatizing mental illness.
The club’s action projects include giving presentations on mental health to alert the community that people shouldn’t be afraid to discuss depression, anxiety, and other health conditions. “We’ll also be placing four Little Free Libraries in local parks and stocking them with books on mental health, including the one we’re reading,” Hinz explains.
“Rotary has always been about serving the community and making it better by funding things that act as seeds to produce change,” adds Bol. “I think Little Free Library and Action Book Clubs are a natural fit for the Rotarian approach to the world.”
• Read more stories from The Rotarian