Okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the British are cool. They have great accents (I’m such a sucker for the accent), amazing history (full of drama and violence in all the best possible ways), a cool city as their HQ (I love London!), and fabulous words/expressions (daft cow, water closet, wanker). They are also the brains behind World Book Night.
Thanks go out to The Husband for sharing this article, which introduced me to the concept. World Book Night is a fabulous attempt to do something about the reluctant-reader problem. It started last year in the UK and Ireland. On April 23*, volunteers – including regular people and famous authors/author-adjacent people – hand out books – one million, to be precise – to encourage reading. Think about it – a million free books given out all over the country. What a brilliant (to quote the Brits) idea! How cool is that?? And why don’t we have one here??
Oh wait, turns out we do! In Googling WBN to find out more about the UK version, I found a website for a US version. Woohoo, she said! I promptly signed up for more information on the program and how to volunteer for next year’s extravaganza, and encourage you to do the same.
So how does all this work, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Thirty books are selected. Special print editions are made, and the books are sent to volunteers for distribution in their local community. Sweet, eh? Which books, you ask? Well, let me tell you that too – after taking a sidebar moment to remind you that I told you the Brits were cool – they trust their citizens to decide what’s worth reading. Not so much the Americans, apparently. You see, in the UK, regular people get to vote on the giveaway books; in the US, a committee selects them. How like the US to throw a committee into the mix. Heaven forbid the people who might want to read a book get some say in what book they are given, eh? It’s just plain silly to me, but whatever.
Regardless of who decides what, I still think it’s pretty sweet that there’s a nationwide movement here to focus on adult reading. There’s a lot of attention on encouraging children to read. That’s great, don’t get me wrong – child-readers most likely grow into adult-readers, so encouraging kids is a great long-term strategy. But I think that adults could use some pushing on the reading-front too. There are a lot of adults who need the encouragement every bit as much as their children – and if we want adults to encourage kids to read, well, it seems quite logical to me that it helps if we have more adults reading in the first place. So I think it’s a grand idea that there’s an initiative that focuses on the broader adult audience as well as the kiddies.
For more information on WBN and this year’s selections or to volunteer, please visit us.worldbooknight.org. And make sure to check back next year – I would like to do my own version of WBN. After all, I too want to be cool…
*Why April 23, you ask? Well, let me tell you that too. According to the WBN US website, “April 23 is the UNESCO International Day of the Book, chosen in honor of Shakespeare and Cervantes, who both died on April 23 1616. (It is also the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday.)”