Today I took part in World Book Night 2012. I came across it by complete accident a few months ago on Twitter. Sherman Alexie was promoting it as one of his books was one of the 30 books to choose from to give out. The premise of WBN is that passionate readers, Book Givers, give out books to light or non-readers to help promote a love of reading and to pass on the passion. Today is Shakespeare’s birthday, the inspiration for this night. I signed up, was chosen, and gave out copies of The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous giving the book out to students when I first started. I mean, what would they say? The would probably think I am crazy. But then again, I am the crazy reading teacher so, I would be totally ok with that. I gave a lot of books to former students. They were students I remembered not to be crazy about reading and usually groaning about SSR. I also gave most of my books to male students. I did not mean to discriminate but I think this book can do a lot to reach male students. I also gave the book to students in my class and of course, today was a dedicated SSR day.
Some students did not seem to know what to do. The first two students I gave a book to, two juniors I had last year at sophomores, seemed confused even when I explained it to them. I fear they may have just stuffed them in their lockers. One student flat out refused to take a book from me. That hurt a little bit but I pushed on. Unfortunately, one book was found abandoned in the hallway. I was very sad about that. However, I quickly found a new owner for that book.
Most students were pleased though. A former student working on his senior project came to borrow books from the author he is focusing on. I gave him a copy of the book and he genuinely thanked me for it. He said he would give it a try. Some students that I caught in the hall thanked me and told me it was nice. They promised to read it for SSR. (One teacher sent a student back to get more information about where the book had come from.) One student, part of a due I refer to as ‘Double Trouble,’ wanted to make sure he was getting a book since his sidekick received one. (These two spent the majority of SSR last year reading Captain Underpants. I explained this would probably appeal to them.) Another student started reading it right away during SSR in our class and said he wanted to read it every day since I had given it to him. I conferred with him today and he said he was liking the book and wanted to give it a try. (The number one compliment on the book was that it had pictures.) I hope to see the books around more in the possession of my students.
I am glad I got to take part in this event and hope to do so again next year. It sends a strong message to people and I am all for anything that promotes reading. I am a proud book giver and will continue to strive to get books in the hands of light and non-readers for years to come. I hope many of us are inspired to pass on the love of reading through strong books throughout the years.
For more information on World Book Night America, visit: http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/