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Snow Day Highlights: Little Free Sled Libraries Slide Into Cold-Weather States

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

I'm at home here in Los Angeles, where wintertime means very little. But many parts of the country are getting hit with or digging out from a very large winter storm system. And those storms come with a symphony of winter sound - snowplows scraping, cars spinning their wheels and this far more pleasing sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN PLAYING)

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

For all the headaches that winter storms bring with them, they do give kids and some kid-like adults the chance to use gravity to advantage and speed down a snow-covered hill, like a rather unforgiving hill in Eau Claire, Wis.

CHAD ROWEKAMP: Our hill has quite a few bumps, so, like, some of the saucers are already broke because they're plastic, you know?

CHANG: So what do you do when your sled breaks? Well, two weeks ago, Chad Rowekamp got his tools and some lumber. You've heard of those Little Free Libraries full of books? Well, Rowekamp built a different kind of library, a Little Free Sled Library.

ROWEKAMP: It was a good opportunity for me to do a father/son project with my 9-year-old and let him use some power tools.

CHANG: It's an idea that's been catching on in parts of the Midwest.

MARGRET ALDRICH: It just immediately struck a chord.

KELLY: That is Margret Aldrich. She works for Little Free Libraries, Inc. That's a nonprofit in Hudson, Wis. She spotted a picture of a free sled library on a Minneapolis park site and says she loved the idea.

ALDRICH: The spirit of generosity is so important right now. It's a challenging time for everybody, so it's great to see that people are sharing their sleds.

CHANG: And people are sharing the idea even beyond the Midwest. The village of Leicester in upstate New York got a question from a resident wondering if a Little Free Sled Library could go up there. Clerk Treasurer Kirstie DeGraff thinks it's a good idea.

KIRSTIE DEGRAFF: We certainly would like to try to do something because we've got a really nice, steep hill.

CHANG: She says over the weekend, about 100 kids were out on the hill. And until the community approves the placement of the Little Free Sled Library, the kids will make do as they always have.

DEGRAFF: This is a rural farming community, so what you see a lot here is inner tubes.

KELLY: Or pieces of cardboard, maybe a plastic garbage can lid - kids, even grown-up kids, know how to improvise.

(SOUNDBITE OF SWEATSHOP UNION'S "LISTEN UP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.