World Book Night 2014
Last March, throughout the celebrations for the National Reading Month, the reading community had numerous opportunities to shine a spotlight on the solid reasons why books and literacy are so important for children: reading helps developing vital language skills, enhances their social abilities, improves hand-eye coordination. Ultimately, instilling a love of reading in our kids can open new worlds for them and enrich their lives. But what about adults? Do we read enough? Or has technology simply changed the way we read?
Years ago, futurologists predicted the death of the written word. While, on the contrary, reading has become a bigger part of our daily life thanks to the internet, it is also true that a surprisingly high number of adults doesn’t have easy access to books, whether for lack of means or for geographical reasons. Encouraging and promoting a reading habit is as critical for our adult and teen population as it is for children. Books can change lives, improve employability and social interactions, not to mention the positive effect reading has on mental health and happiness: book readers are, in fact, more likely to participate in volunteering, attend cultural events, and carry a healthier lifestyle.
The product of a round table discussion at London’s Book Industry Conference in 2010, World Book Night U.S. is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring a passion for reading among people who do not normally have access to printed books (nursing homes, low-income school, unprivileged city areas). With the support of thousands of volunteers across the country, including authors, publishers, booksellers, and libraries, every year on April 23 (Shakespeare’s birthday and UNESCO World Book Day) passionate readers go out into their community and share copies of their favorite reads.
Each year, about thirty books meeting criteria of quality, gender, ethnic, and geographical balance, are selected by an independent panel of librarians and booksellers to be re-printedd in a not-for-sale World Book Night edition: the authors weave their royalties and the publishers agree to pay the production costs; bookstores and libraries sign up to be community host locations for the volunteer book givers. This year’s book selection includes, among the others, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, After The Funeral by Agatha Christie, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, 12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northrup.
Parks And Recreation star, Amy Poehler, joins a coalition of publishers, authors, and volunteers as honorary chairperson of the event. “I grew up loving books”, Poehler recalls. “In today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read.”
Today, 500,000 books will be donated by 25,000 volunteers in low-income areas of our country. For a complete list of host locations, and to learn how to donate and get involved in the 2015 World Book Night, please visit the organization website.