Quick, flip the calendar page over to next month. Got it? Okay, now take a red pen and draw a heart around February 14. That's right, Valentine's Day -- but our red heart has less to do with candy and Cupids than you might think. Instead, we're putting a heart around February 14 because that is International Book Giving Day, a very special day dedicated to getting books into the hands of kids all around the globe.
There's not much I'm more passionate about than making books accessible to children -- all children, everywhere, not just those whose parents can afford them. That's why I'm such an advocate of public libraries, and why we support organizations like Ethiopia Reads and Books for Africa. These groups, and so many others, recognize the power of the written word to change lives for the better. Building on that premise, International Book Giving Day began in 2012 and is going to be even bigger and better this year!
What I think is so tremendous about International Book Giving Day is that it takes a holiday that people are already aware of, and transforms the impulse to give into something that makes connections internationally. You can decide to participate in one, or all, of three ways:
1. Give a book to someone you know -- a friend, relative, neighbor, or acquaintance
This can be a new or used book, or one you loan to someone. It can be from your own collection or a title you purchase just for the occasion. Or, you can make a trip to the library and share books you borrow!
2. Leave a book in a waiting room or lobby
Find a place where kids will be stuck hanging around and make that time count by leaving a book behind. This is a great idea for titles your kiddos may have outgrown. Sort out those that are in good condition and give them a second life in a doctor's office or waiting area.
3. Donate a book - or several!
There are loads of organizations, both in your local area and working internationally, that could make great use of books you donate. Libraries, juvenile correction centers, schools, group homes, children's hospitals, daycare centers, shelters, foster care agencies - these are just a few of the places you might consider. Think globally too - by donating books or funds to an international literacy organization, you can change the life of a child half a world away.
For more information on how you can participate, including tons more fantastic ideas for book giving, click on over to the International Book Giving Day website.
Books are hope, magic through story that can strengthen and embolden and inspire every single one of us. By giving a book to a child, either in your own backyard or in a country you've never seen, you can spark that magic in another young life.
This February 14, we're giving books - will you?