William Shakespeare might appreciate how World Book Night (WBN) is celebrating his birthday on Tuesday, April 23.
Spreading the love of reading around the world, person to person, is the goal of World Book Night. This year, more than 250,000 volunteers will be giving away half a million free books to people in their communities across the nation on April 23.
World Book Night began in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011. Last year it was also celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. In 2012, almost 80,000 people gave out 2.5 million books in four countries.
Book-loving volunteers apply on the WBN Website, order 20 copies of the book they want to give away and pick the books up from a designated pick-up site. They then go out into the community and share free copies of the books they love, helping to spread the joy of reading to adults and young adults who may not have access to or the means to purchase books.
The El Dorado County Library will be participating in WBN for the second year, as a designated book pick-up site for book givers.
At last year’s book pick-up reception, excited book givers shared ideas on where to give away books and did some swapping of titles so they would have multiple titles to give away.
Veteran’s hospitals, roller skating rinks, mass transit, nursing homes, schools, food pantries were just some of the places El Dorado County volunteers handed out their books last April 23.
This year, books like “The Alchemist,” “The Phantom Toll Booth,” “Pop: 485,” “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” and ” The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” will be given to people in the community.
The California Retired Teachers Association of El Dorado County is one of the groups making the commitment to bring books to people in the community. Last year the organization gave away 20 copies of “Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers to people at the Upper Room Dining Hall in Placerville.
“”Zeitoun” is an incredible book about a Muslim man who survives Hurricane Katrina,” said Margaret Kirchgater, former president of CALRTA and current organizer for its participation in WBN.
“Last year, we were serving at the Upper Room on World Book Night and when we came in wearing our CALRTA shirts, we got a reaction from some people who hadn’t had great school experiences. But then we started talking about the book and when we asked if anyone wanted to read it, so many hands went up — we could have given away 80 copies. As it was, with only 20 copies, we had to have a drawing. It was an experience I won’t forget.”
This year, CALRTA chose “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,” by James Patterson, with Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County as their beneficiaries.
“We are targeting reluctant readers,” said Kirchgater. “This book has hilarious illustrations and it’s about working your way out of dire circumstances. Middle school is dire circumstances enough for most of us.”
“We will be giving the books to the girls who participate in the ‘Girl Circle’ program, which is a structured support group for girls 9 to 18 years old, integrating theory, resiliency practices and skill training in a specific format designed to increase positive connection, personal and collective strengths and competence in girls,” said Cathie Byrd, case manager for BBBS. “We facilitate this program in Camino, Herbert Green, Markham and Sierra Ridge schools.”
Kirchgater said she is making it her personal goal to urge CALRTA members to apply individually to be book givers for 2014.
“That way we can have multiple titles of books available for the 2014 World Book Night,” said Kirchgater.
Each year’s selection of 30 books is chosen by a panel of booksellers and librarians through several rounds of voting. The printing of the free books is made possible by the generosity of the authors, publishers and book manufacturing companies.
Among this year’s titles are classics like: “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” ”Fahrenheit 451,” “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “My Antonia” and ”A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”
Authors like: Lisa Scottolie, Nora Roberts, Walter Mosely, John Grisham, Sandra Cisneros, David Sedaris, Jessamyn West and Alexander McCall Smith are represented.
Recent best-sellers like: “The Language of Flowers” and Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” are also on the list. All books are special copies, published just for WBN and so designated on the cover.
It is too late to apply to be a book giver for 2013, but anyone interested in being a book giver for 2014 should visit the World Book Night Website at worldbooknight.org. Check often as the deadline to apply is this fall.