Last Wednesday, my family (Tim, the kids, and I) had a wonderful time volunteering with World Book Night in America. The three kids especially found it even more exciting as the evening wore on. But before I go any further, if you don’t know what World Book Night (WBN) is, then the short and sweet of it is that we signed-up last Fall through this non-profit organization, were accepted and given a book title, and 20 copies were shipped to our local indie bookstore for us to pick-up!
We were given the title of The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, one of three I mentioned I’d like to give, which is a non-fiction WWII story about how Jews were hidden in the Zoo from the Nazis. You can read all about WBN as an organization, our PRE-festivities, and information on the book we gave in my post from last week HERE.
In addition, Tim wrote a great article for RichlandSource online news, the news outlet he is a correspondent with, about WBN in our community and the independent book store we chose to pick our books up at, Main Street Books in Mansfield, Ohio, HERE.
Today, I’m finally following up to tell about our adventure in our town of Ashland, Ohio. I won’t give it all away (well I’ll try) as WBN is having an essay contest that I plan to write an entry for, but I will tell you that it was a more humbling experience that I thought even it might be. As we all love books, as well as volunteering, I knew we’d have fun and be teaching the kids the importance of giving and promoting literacy. I was prepared for people to say no, give us weird looks, wonder if we were salesman, or just be rude. However, what we found was totally different from these expectations.
We live in a small university town, and by 4 p.m. most of the social service agencies are closed for the day. As our last child gets out of school at 4, we needed to go to some places open in the evenings so that the kids could also be a part of the program. We thought it fitting then that we start by giving out to a few staff or students at the local Ashland University student center. We found a few students who smiled and were really happy to have a book. Wow, a college student that wants a book to read for pleasure?? Score one for us. We found an older gentleman going into the recreation center who said he thought “he’d love to read this book, he really thought he would.” We loved seeing the smiles on the faces and my kid’s got really excited then to head around town. I think the smiles on people’s faces really ignited their inner giving spirit.
We ended up making ten stops, from several gas stations in which male attendants were nothing less than THRILLED to receive a free book as well as the fact that they were flabbergasted that it was free to them. At that point, my kids really started to beam. They loved making people happy AND happy about books!!
We went to the staff at our local Holiday Inn, gave to a facilities worker at our Salvation Army/Kroc Recreation Center who was very thankful to say the least, a local coffee shop that is in our local Buehler’s Fresh Foods Market called Scenic River Coffee Company (where we happily gave one to the young barista and made an addition to their small library they house there for readers). My son also found a woman using the Internet at the cafe who was so enthusiastic for receiving a book that she wanted to make a donation, so we pointed out WBN’s info and she said she’d try to sign-up for next year to be a giver!
The only hiccup we had was in heading to Starbucks at which a snooty young woman listened to my six-year tell her about the book then stuck her nose up and said no. But my daughter was not phased as I told her to not take it personally and quickly shook it off in exchange for a beaming smile to grace her face again when we went to our local Dollar Tree and gave to one of their younger employees who was extra happy and gave her a high-five. We also gave to an over-worked middle-aged lady at our convenience store, Circle K, who seemed interested in the book and what we were all about through chopping on her chips, pop, and wrangling some young eight year old boys at the dispenser.
I have to say though usually in a small town where you feel you know everyone, and everyone knows you, I certainly did meet many people face to face that I might not have talked to otherwise beyond not looking up as I handed over my cash. It felt good to see my kid’s learning to speak with people, especially my middle daughter who is shy as she came out of her shell by the end of the night and really gained self-confidence to speak to people about the book.
It was a great family bonding time, a wonderful learning experience for my children in giving, and also it taught us a lot about human interaction and what doors books can open between different types of people. I enjoyed live tweeting at @ErinAlMehairi and live Instagraming (Erin Al-Mehairi) to share our experience with others.
We look forward to doing it again next year, though none of us want to wait another year. The feeling of euphoria we came home with after giving books for nothing in return was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I will forever remember the smiles not only the faces of the people we gave to, but also the smiles on my children’s faces.
Enjoy some of our photos from several of our stops, where you’ll see the smiles for yourself:
Scenic River Coffee Company
Salvation Army/Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center
Holiday Inn Express
For more information on World Book Night, go to http://www.us.worldbooknight.org.