World Book Night in Detroit: Spreading the Love of Reading Person to Person

World Book Night in Detroit: Spreading the Love of Reading Person to Person

worldbooknightsandy4worldbooknightwaitressLast night, for the first time, I was a Book Giver for World Book Night.* It seems an appropriate thing for a librarian of forty years to do, doesn’t it? An estimated half a million free World Book Night paperbacks were given out this year and this librarian gave out twenty.

World Book Night is an annual celebration launched in the U.K. in 2011 and 2012 in the U.S. It’s dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person and about giving books and encouraging reading to those who don’t regularly read. It’s also about people, communities, and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways–through the sharing of stories.

My planned destination to give out books was the Amtrak train station in Detroit’s New Center area.  I selected the train station anticipating a diverse selection of people who might appreciate receiving a free book to take with them on their journey.

I picked up my box of twenty copies of Wild by Cheryl Strayed at the Wayne State University Barnes & Noble bookstore the previous Saturday; got permission to give out books at the Amtrak station; downloaded and printed a World Book Night information and evaluation sheet to stuff in each recipient’s book; and ordered World Book Night Giver pins and postcards to use as signage. I was ready to go.

My friend Teresa joined me. We met at 5:30 p.m. at the Amtrak station and prepared to embark on our mission. The little station was full of people waiting for a train to Chicago. We decided to just approach everyone politely announcing it was World Book Night, giving some details, and offering a book.  Most people were surprised and excited – one lady even offered to make a donation to WBN. They all said they would share the books with others. No one wanted their picture taken.

We had given out nine books and then the station emptied out.  When the stationmaster informed us the next train didn’t leave or come in for two hours we knew we had to go somewhere else. There were still eleven books to distribute.  A nearby restaurant and bar seemed the logical place to go. So we headed over to the Traffic Jam and had an amusing time diplomatically giving out our last eleven books.

Two middle-aged men were really excited about the book – one having had a little too much to drink said he loved the book title. They both left grinning,  waving the books in their hands and profusely thanking us for our kindness stating they had never won anything before in their lives. One woman said that we would never know how much the gift of the book meant to her especially on that day. And our waitress and a waiter were deliriously happy to be given a book they thought they might really like to read.

Strangers were surprised that we were offering them something and asking for nothing in return. It was a pleasure to spread the love of reading person to person on World Book Night! Looking forward to next year.  

 *According to the organization’s site, April 23 was chosen because it’s both the anniversary of Miguel Cervantes’ death and Shakespeare’s birth. The books are free because World Book Night is a nonprofit organization supported by American Booksellers Association, Barnes & Noble, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, Ingram Book Distributors and a slew of book publishers and authors themselves, who,according to USA Today, waived their royalties. 

2 Replies to “World Book Night in Detroit: Spreading the Love of Reading Person to Person”

    1. Thanks, Joann! I didn’t know what to expect. The person to person contact with the book to share was the highlight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *