LACONIA — If you’ve got kids, you’ve probably got children’s books. And if your children are more than just a few years old, you’ve probably also got books that no longer interest them, so they’ve been packed into boxes while you wait for something to do with them.
That something is now, as a local father has organized what he said is the inaugural Laconia book swap, where people can give away the children’s books collecting dust, and take home some new books that will engage their child’s attention this summer.
Mike Gagnon, who created the “Love Laconia” Facebook group, said he has placed collection boxes at several places around the city: Studio 151 Fitness, Wayfarer Coffee Roasters, Singh Family Dental, Happy Cow Ice Cream and The Downtown Gym. The boxes will be out until Saturday morning.
Then, from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, all the donated books will be brought to Wayfarer Coffee Roasters for the swap. If the weather’s nice, the swap will be outside, and Gagnon said anyone is welcome to browse the selection whether or not they’ve dropped a book in one of the boxes.
Any books left after the swap will be donated to organizations where children gather, or will be used to stock little free libraries that Gagnon hopes to set up around the city.
Gagnon said he started his Facebook group to celebrate the city he lives in, and the community spirit that he’s seen firsthand. When his son, Max, was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago, he saw the city rise to support his family. Max is now a first-grader and “doing great,” his father said.
“The way that the community came out for us, it was amazing,” Gagnon said. He has since been similarly amazed by a group of students known as the “Cereal Heroes,” who take it upon themselves to raise money to help improve the lives of their neighbors. “Those kids are doing awesome stuff,” he said. “We wanted to match that energy, we think this is an awesome place to live.”
“Love Laconia” gives Gagnon the chance to describe the city as he sees it. “I had this idea to push out some good news, do community events,” he said. The first event was a free flower giveaway on Valentine’s Day, in case people forgot to get something for their sweetheart. The book swap, which he said will become a yearly event, is the second, and he said he has already collected hundreds of books for the Saturday swap.
“The idea is to do a fun community event each quarter,” Gagnon said.