Happy World Book Night to all.
World Book Night is an event that takes place each year on 23 April in the UK and Ireland. It first started on 5 March 2011 and but in 2012 it was moved to the date it now takes place on as it coincides with World Book and Copyright day. It’s a day that is aimed at encouraging young people and adults to read for pleasure and each year volunteers give away books in their local communities. I have had the privilege of having been chosen to be a book giver for the last 5 years. The first year the book I was given was The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and I think I was given about 36 copies of this to give away. This was a task and a half to give away that many books. The second year I was given A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombric – this was the year I turned down being a giver as i didn’t think enough people would be interested in taking a history book. I have since also been chosen to give away Theodore Boon by John Grisham and last year Dead Man Talking by Roddy Doyle both of which went down a storm with the people I was giving them to. By the time of giving out the John Grisham book the number of books for an individual giver to give away had dropped to a more manageable number of 16 books. They also became quick reads which makes it easier to encourage people to read them. A large novel can be frightening to somebody who struggles to read or it can look like a lot of work to somebody who hasn’t read for years.
My World Book Night Event took place yesterday in the Community Hub of my local campus and we had a fantastic turnout. We had 16 books to give away and I packaged them up in small gift bags. As you can see from the picture the book I gave away was Too Good to be True by Ann Cleeves. Many people that came along recognised the fact that Ann Cleeves’ stories were now televised on both BBC – Shetland series and ITV – Vera and this was a brilliant conversation starter about the book. A brilliant afternoon was had by all who attended and it was amazing to see so many people come together over their love of books. We had amazing discussions about books and I had brought along a small collection of the types of books I read. One person who had been in the Community Hub for another reason had stayed around to chat about the books and ended up borrowing one of my books I had brought along as she was already a reader. Many of the people that attended were just starting to read again, some were people who had struggled to read in the past and some were just people who already loved to read but had come along to find out what World Book Night actually was and to share their love of reading and why it was important to them. Over cakes and coffee we chatted about books, about books that had been made into movies or TV series for nearly 3 hours. The mixed company of readers and non-readers made for great conversation and it was a great opportunity to share something that many of us take for granted.I certainly think the variety of cakes and biscuits helped the conversation as well though.
After writing this out I suddenly realised that I’ve been book giver for World Book Night since it began. This was a shock to me since I didn’t realise it had only been running for such a short time. I’ve been a reader of books since I was a young child and I’ve always been lucky enough to own books. Even as a child I remember going to jumble sales with my Mum and coming home with books. In my youth The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and the Narnia books are a few titles that I can remember reading. I think I always had a book in my hand. As I got older my taste in books didn’t change much. I still enjoy detective stories, fantasy/sci-fi but I did progress to horror stories and vampire novels. I do have favourite authors but I am open to new suggestions. I’ve walked the streets of many places all over the world in my mind while reading. I’ve never been out of the UK but in my head I can picture the places I’ve read about in my books. I’m an avid Anne Rice fan and in my mind I’ve walked the streets of New Orleans with Lestat and his crew and hopefully in 3 years time I will be doing it for real. I hope to see the places that I have read about in Anne’s wonderful series of books The Vampire Chronicles.
I’ll leave you with a little quote from Maya Angelou. Reading is good whether you are encouraging an adult or a child.
Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.