World Book Night 2012
On April 23, hundreds of thousands of people joined together to spread their love of the simplest of items: the book. World Book Night is an annual celebration, started first in 2011 in the UK, which exists simple to spread the love of reading and books from person to person. This year, WBN made its debut in the United States and I felt honored to be one of the WBN givers this past month!
Basically, I saw a tweet online about joining a group to hand out free books and so my little librarian heart went pitter patter and I went and signed up. When you signed up, you were able to chose from a list of 30 different titles. When I saw The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I immediately chose it as my first pick. I mean, it’s the freaking Hunger Games…and I’m a YA librarian. I’m only human!
Then, the week of April 16, I got to go and pick up a box of books: 20 shiny new paperback copies of The Hunger Games all ready to be distributed into the world. Now, one of my dilemmas was choosing where I would be giving these books out. You’re asked to give the books out to non-readers and so giving them out at the library really wasn’t an option. I wanted to go out into the community and spread my love to those who were not usually within the four walls of a library. I did take library card applications, bookmarks about library services, and a letter that invited them to stop by the library or email us if they liked the book and I place all of that information into the books. Just making sure I pass on good library info like a good little librarian!
My mother, she is still protective, was worried that I would drive into a gang fight and try to pass out books (and she is probably right), so I asked a friend who is a professor at the local university to come with me.
So, Shalanda and I set off to conquer the world with our books. At first, I thought we’d stop by a gardening program at another library and found out that someone had already been by there with books for WBN! We quickly jumped back in the car and decided to drive down a strip mall area known as Antique Alley to see if we could find random walkers. There was an older woman and her husband loading plants in the car and she gladly took a book and then commented on how she had heard about the book and wanted to read it.
That was fun but we wanted to try to step it up a notch so we stopped by a Laundromat. Inside was a mother and her two tween/teen daughters. When we asked them if they wanted a FREE copy of The Hunger Games, the girls’ eyes lit up. You would have thought that we were giving them a pony. Then, we gave the Mom a copy as well, and while she hadn’t heard of it, she seemed very excited to get a copy of a free book.
Next stop? The hospital. We went to the pediatric ward and there were no kids in the hospital (yay!) but the nurses all had to have a copy. Then, they told us that there was a mother there with a sick baby so Shalanda delivered the book to her. Her quote was something like, “Oh good…I needed something to do while I am here.” On the elevator trip back downstairs, spied an older gentleman who was carrying a book but I decided to offer a copy anyway. The man said, “My daughter was telling me about this book and that I needed to read it.”
With only a few books left, we decided to travel over to the ER waiting room because we have all been to the ER and flipped through the copy of People magazine where Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt are still married and Bill Clinton is still President. It was EASY to pass out books there. And one boy sat reading with his mother. She looked up and said, “OH! The Hunger Games…for free?” When we walked away, the shy boy looked up and you could see in his eyes that he was PUMPED. Now that is a good feeling.
Then, our last stop? The Chick-Fil-A Drive Thru. We gave our last three books to the girls working the drive thru. They were stunned but very thankful. And then…we were done.
Overall, this was one of the most fulfilling programs I’ve ever done. It makes a difference to get out in your community and spread the love of reading. And why wait for World Book Night? Take those leftover ARCs that we all have hiding on your bookshelves and plan one evening to go to a hospital and pass a few books out.
Later that night, I got an email from the man in the elevator. It said, “Thank you so much for the book. Tonight, I called and talked to my 35 year old daughter for an hour about the book and it gave us an opportunity to connect in a way which we haven’t ever done before. I will pass this book on when I am done and hope it does the same for them.”
That’s what it’s all about. Spreading the love of reading. Don’t wait for April 23, 2013…start today.
If you’re interested in World Book Night, visit http://www.worldbooknight.org/ and sign up on the mailing list to find out more about the program and to hear early when they are taking applications for the 2013 WBN!
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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