Last spring, I joined two other members of my local Women of Today chapter to give books to random strangers. We didn’t think of this on our own, there is an organization on a mission to celebrate reading by giving away books.
World Book Night United States is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. It was celebrated for the first time in the United States in 2012 and will now be an annual event. World Book Night was first celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011 as a way to encourage more adults to read.
Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go into their communities and hand out half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to adult light and non-readers. In their first year in the US, 25,000 volunteer book givers handed out books in 5,800 towns and cities around America.
World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading to those who do not regularly do so. But I learned firsthand that it is more than that. It is about people, communities and connections. It is about reaching out to others and touching lives through the sharing of stories. Each person that received the books I helped hand out was so appreciative and happy. We had several conversations about books and reading.
The rules to the program are simple: give away all the books you receive. Each of the volunteer book givers did things in their own way. One volunteer, Suzie, said she went back to the community center where they gave out the book to have a potluck dinner and great conversations about the book. Another volunteer, Colleen, walked back to where she had been handing out books to see people already reading them. Heather gave her books to a local correctional facility and received a packet of handwritten thank you letters, one of which mentioned that the book he received that night was the first book he had ever read to completion. Yet another volunteer, Chris Cander, gave her books to youth at a shelter for the homeless and runaway teens and then wrote about it on her blog.
World Book Night US is made up of thousands of passionate book lovers in America: Volunteer book givers who share their time and energy, the participating booksellers and librarians who host events, the authors who waive their royalties, and the publishers who contribute to the production and distribution of the free World Book Night paperbacks across the country.
How can you get involved?
- The signup for the 2013 event recently opened. First, review the list of books for 2013, then read the guidelines for the program and apply. You need to apply by January. In February you will learn if you will receive books to hand out on April 23.
- You can also spread the work about the program though social media or sharing it with your community.
- The organization also appreciates financial donations or information about foundations or groups that might be interested in supporting them.
You can learn more on the World Book Night US website, WorldBookNight.org. If you have specific questions, you can e-mail them at April23@WorldBookNight.org. You can also connect with them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Goodreads, and Instagram!
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