School is out, but that doesn’t mean this Dalzell girl has stopped reading.

Allee Riggs, 5, is an avid reader — she finished reading 1,000 books before starting kindergarten.

“She really wanted to have something we could share with our neighbors,” said her mother, Kristy Riggs, about a little free library her daughter wanted to try.

Little free libraries are small libraries that often go by the motto “take a book, leave a book,” encouraging people to read for free.

After searching, Kristy found an organization who would donate the library: The Starved Rock County Community Foundation and inmates at Sheridan Correctional Center made the little library, which has the theme of “The Giving Tree” book.

Kristy said the project happened through a family and community effort.

Dylan Conmy with Prairie Fox Books in Ottawa painted the library and added surprises for Allee by painting her and her brother, Eli, under the giving tree on the library. 

Many people donated books for the library, as well as Prairie Fox Books in Ottawa and the Spring Valley Library.

Kristy’s father made a stand for the library, and Kristy’s husband and their neighbor dug a hole for the library.

Dalzell, a village of about 600 people, doesn’t have a library, so the little library makes it easier for Allee to keep up on her reading.

Allee got started with reading after spending time with her grandmother reading bedtime stories.

Allee’s grandmother (also an avid reader), would travel to different stores and let each grandchild pick out books. During Christmas, Allee’s grandmother gifts her grandchildren with boxes of books (with 12-20 books in them), so that the children have plenty to read on rainy or snowy days.

Around November, the village of Dalzell approved the little library to go up in town.

Reporter Ali Braboy can be reached at and (815) 220-6931.

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