Because Every Child Deserves a Book

Aug 16, 2022

Sometimes, God reveals his plans to us at some interesting times.

“I was walking home, and I passed a Little Free Library,” Jacqulynn Wood Williams ’01 recalls.  “Then I stopped and walked back to it. I was drawn back to it for some reason.”

A special education teacher in the greater Orlando area, Jacqulynn vividly remembers that day in 2020, during the pandemic. After participating in a drive-by birthday party, she decided to walk home, sending the rest of her family home via car.

Arriving back at the Little Free Library, she instinctively called her FSC classmate, Brent Ellis ’01, and asked if he could build this sort of structure, sending him a quick pic she took with her phone. “It seemed like only a few hours later, and Brent said he could do it.”

Jacqulynn Wood Williams and Brent Ellis
FSC Class of 2001 alumni Jacqulynn Wood Williams, Brent Ellis, and Nicole Rutledge Regilio (not pictured) worked together to build and stock four Free Little Libraries, providing books of all reading levels to children in the Orlando area.

It all happened so fast. It all happened that fast.

For his part, Brent was eager to participate. “She knows I do a lot of wood working, so it was a natural fit.”

But supplies and books are not cheap. Reaching out to the local community helped defray the costs, though it only helped so much. Jacqulynn’s sorority sister, Nicole Rutledge Regilio ’01 stepped in to help. Nicole became the Financial Fairy Godmother to the project, ensuring that the work would continue.

Little Free Libraries resemble bird houses, but instead host books for people to share. The self-described “World’s largest book sharing movement,” more than 150,000 Little Free Libraries exist globally, including in all 50 U.S. states, 115 countries, and all seven continents. First established in 2009, “The mission of the Little Free Library nonprofit organization is to be a catalyst for building community,” said Executive Director Greig Metzger, “inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all. That couldn't happen without dedicated volunteer stewards like Jacqulynn.”

A Specific Learning Disabilities major at FSC, she teaches special education in the Orlando City Public Schools, working with first graders. During the pandemic, she was teaching youth how to read, but online. Her biggest issue was making sure that all of her students, including those from underprivileged circumstances, had books. Enter the Little Free Library.

With Brent handling the construction, it was up to Jacqulynn to find a suitable location. Since she taught in Bithlo, the location seemed easy. Working with the Parks Department, her first Little Free Library went up in the Bithlo Community Park. Shortly thereafter, Fort Christmas reached out to her, to see if she could create a Little Free Library in their community. Two more libraries would be build, making it four in all, for Jacqulynn and Brent, providing free books to anyone who wants them.

Every two weeks, Jacqulynn visits her Little Free Libraries, restocking them with donated books while making sure that the structures are clean. “I make a conscious decision to fill them with children’s books,” she said. “My purpose is to make sure that every child has a book to read.”

And the books.

Most of the books for the Little Free Libraries are donated from the local community. Friends, parents, teachers, churches and other civic organizations have all stepped up to help. Jacqulynn even received a package of books from New Jersey that she put to use.

Currently, she has a stockpile of books in her house, occupying more space than she cares to recall.

“I am very mindful,” said Jacqulynn, “from Pre-K all the way through middle school, that every child needs a book.”

To help Jacqulynn, Nicole, and Brent make a difference in children’s lives, visit Little Free Library.org. You can create your own library, or find libraries near you by using the search tool on the World Map.

You can search by Near Me, Location, or by Charter Number.