On April 23rd, an event took place all over the world and I had the privilege of being a part of it. This was my second time being a World Book Night book distributor.
What is all this, you say? In a nutshell, it is a mass distribution of books that takes place at sites all over the world. The goal is to put books into the hands of adults who do not regularly read. This is a project after my own heart since I have been a family literacy coordinator as part of my job for over ten years. I heard about this worthy project word of mouth in the fall of 2011 and went to the website to check it out. I was just in time to apply to become a volunteer for the first US WBN distribution on April 23, 2012. It was such a rewarding, fun experience that I applied again for this year and got picked again.
In early February, I got the green light and was told what book I was to receive for distribution. Then it was time to coordinate where I would pick up my books. I chose the library. Each drop location is not just a place to pick up the books; it is a time for a reception to mingle with other distributors, booksellers and librarians. Over delicious treats, we share what books we’re passing out and where we’ll be doing our distributions. Naturally as book lovers, we pried the shipping tape off and took a look at our books, talked them up and made notes of books we want to read for future reference. The books are all special print with the WBN covers and they are not for us, but we still drooled. My book to be handed out was ‘The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith. There were just over 30 award winning books to choose from that range across a variety of genres to choose from. At my pick up point reception, there were only five of us, but it was fun to meet the others.
Yesterday, I put my ID sticker on and headed to the local Head Start which is a federally funded preschool program. I caught the parents of the children in the halls of the school, in the classrooms and on the playground where some were picking up and some were volunteering in their child’s class. I had a quick little spiel worked out introducing myself, WBN and then the book. After a while, I tossed it aside just to talk books and explain why I was offering a free book with no strings attached. The responses ranged from disbelief that I was giving away free books to eager acceptance. Several spoke of returning it after they were done reading because they still couldn’t believe that I was giving them something for free. I watched fingers clutching the books to chests with murmurs of thanks. I heard ‘I don’t get much time to read, but I love to’ or ‘I love to read, but cannot afford books’ or ‘sure, I don’t read, but I’ll give it a try since it’s free’. My recipients were a diverse group of age, gender, ethnicity and reading experience. Hopefully, the books will be enjoyed and some will have a chance to grow into avid readers.
It took less than an hour of my time, but it was such an enjoyable experience. I encourage others to do WBN next year. I’m including the website addy so you can check it out for yourself and learn more about it: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/