Today marks a much-loved date on the calendar, and there’s another opportunity to share the love on February 14th.
The love of reading, that is.
International Book Giving Day aims to get books into the hands of as many children as possible – with your help.
“The whole idea began in 2012, literally days before the 14th February,” says the initiative’s current leader, Emma Perry. “When I saw it hit social media, I contacted Amy Broadmoore (the blogger who founded the idea) to ask what help they needed. Then, in 2014, when Amy didn't feel able to continue, she asked if I would take over the reins.”
The 100 per cent volunteer initiative has taken off in the following years, as the idea of increasing children’s access to books hit a nerve with people around the world.
“Since 2012 it has grown so much,” says Perry, who is based in the U.K. “Every year I'm gobsmacked by how many wonderful people, in all corners of the globe, celebrate this day by gifting books to children – and they are just the ones we manage to hear about. I've a sneaky suspicion there are even more!”
Here are some ideas to get involved:
Kids need books everywhere they go – think of all the places kids are sitting around, waiting and bored – so think about donating to your local services.
Go through your children’s bookshelves, find any books that are unwanted or that your child has outgrown, and deliver them to your local doctor's surgery, childcare centre, hospital, school, library or kindergarten.
You can have some fun with Book Giving Day by leaving books in places for kids to discover them.
There’s lots of creative inspiration on the International Book Giving Day website, including:
• "the setup of a book swapping and donating Facebook group by a bunch of book-lovers in Hungary
• a Polish Saturday school in Spain that has started a ‘Give a book for Valentine’s Day’ action
• encouraging not just donations, but one Indian woman shared her plans to get adults and kids reading books to those who can’t read
• leaving books at bus stops, skating rinks, waiting rooms and parks in different parts of the world, and
• “I am going to wrap up five of my books and put them in places, not hidden, where people can find them,” shared a U.K. author on the site.
Donate to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
International Book Giving Day encourages donations to not-for-profit organisations.
One that we can all get behind in Australia is the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), which aims to improve Indigenous children’s literacy and educational opportunities.
A core program of the ILF is called Book Supply, which sees books and literary resources gifted to remote communities.
“The best way is to give a donation of money – not of a book, and the reason for that is our Book Supply program is very specific,” says ILF executive director, Karen Williams. “We want these children’s experience with books to be wonderful; we don’t give them second-hand books, and 40 per cent of the books we buy are written and illustrated by Indigenous authors and illustrators.”
“These are kids who might only have two or three books in their home, and books are a building block to literacy.”
See the ILF website to donate.
“We want these children’s experience with books to be wonderful; we don’t give them second-hand books, and 40 per cent of the books we buy are written and illustrated by Indigenous authors and illustrators.”
Spread the word
Part of the fun of Book Giving Day is connecting with others who are making similar efforts across the globe.
“Have a look through the wonderful bookmarks designed for 2017 by award-winning (Canadian) children's illustrator Marianne Dubuc,” Perry suggests. “Print them out and tuck them into the books you plan to gift on #bookgivingday.”
You can share the ways you’ve given books by using the social media hashtag: #bookgivingday.