Today, April 23, marks the 3rd year of WBN-USA‘s annual book-giving campaign. It is also designated by UNESCO as World Book and Copyright Day. I will be a WBN-USA book giver for the third time. And for the third time, I have chosen a YA/Middle Grade book to share (YA stands for Young Adult). This year, I will be providing copies of Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon (2010). It’s a book appropriate for Middle Grade readers (usually designated as readers between the ages of 9 to 11). There are significant differences between Young Adult and Middle Grade literature, though these differences can vary. However, that’s a topic of discussion for a different post. For now, let’s talk about the pleasures of reading…and the advocating for self-determination through libraries.
Since WBN is about sharing the love of reading person to person, it’s expected and encouraged for a book giver to choose something that is personally relevant. I hadn’t read Zora and Me till I was assigned the book. It was not my first choice, but now, after I have read it, I am very, very glad that it is what I will be give away.
Zora and Me is the fictionalized tale of the young Zora Neale Hurston, lauded author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. I had read the novel many, many years ago. So long ago that it has faded from my memory. Recently, my oldest daughter had to read Their Eyes for her AP English class. We discussed the book, the events in the story, and the characters, awakening for me fond memories of my undergraduate years and the many reasons, all bittersweet, why I had fallen deeply in love with cultural anthropology back then.
The power of a great tale, beautifully rendered, has the capacity to awaken deep feelings within us. It can motivate us to go beyond our zones of comfort, to dare, and to exceed our limitations.
The intentions behind World Book Night is to reveal this simple truth. As book givers, tonight we will go up to perfect strangers and say, “I really loved this story. You may love it, too. Here’s a free copy.” No strings, no questions, no hoops. Just here. Just enjoy. For those of us who find solace between the pages of a book, book-giving can be a profound moment of revealing and sharing a small part of our inner lives with others. Of course, the books may not be read, or even kept. But for a book giver, the bulk of the meaning derived is in the act of giving. At least it is for me.
Of course, I’d like to know that I’ve been effective. It would be nice to know that the books I have decided to give away are just as loved and well-regarded as I had found them. WBN-USA wants to know this, too, without being too obstructive. WBN-USA started out as a grassroots effort to share the love of reading and it continues to be that type of an effort.
The pleasures of leisure reading are manifold. Interestingly, the benefits communities and the whole of society can derive from such a personal, individual, and often solitary activity are just as plenty. According to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the provider of the Big Read grants, “good readers make good citizens.”
Libraries of all types enable good citizenship by helping its members be better stewards of their personal and communal destinies. By signing the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, I am lending my voice to loudly state the value of libraries, library workers, and library resources to anyone.
While the opportunity to officially join World Book Night 2014 has long passed, it is not too late to sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. Click on the image on the right to sign the Declaration online. I hope you will do so.
In the video below, American Library Association (ALA) President 2013-2014, Barbara Stripling, talks some more about the Declaration for the Right to Libraries.