Friday, January 25, 2013

Expressing Soul Through World Book Night

The deadline for World Book Night book giver applications is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 25, 2013. Armacost Library is a pick-up location for World Book Night 2013.

My decision to become a World Book Night book giver was not a difficult one to make. I am a librarian, after all. The hard part came in choosing which book titles to give, at which location to distribute books, and in saying why. Much like selecting a gift, I selected my book title as a means of demonstrating my hopes, dreams, and wishes for the receiver.

But in 2012, this was an easy decision to make. Among WBN’s titles was Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The book is one of my favorite texts. At the time I needed to decide which books to select, it had been on my mind because I had just finished organizing University of Redlands’ first Banned Books Week read-out. A reader chose to read out loud from The Absolutely True Diary. If no one had chosen to read from the book, I was prepared to do so.

I originally wanted to give out The Absolutely True Diary at a local senior center in Redlands, California. I thought seniors could benefit greatly from the truths within its pages, despite the book's young-adult intended audience. This is what I wrote in my 2012 WBN book giver application, so I was fairly comfortable with my decision. But after more thought and reflection, I went to Micah House and the Redlands Community Center and gave books to youth and teens I found there. My change of heart stirred after I talked to my oldest daughter about a shooting that occurred in our neighborhood in early 2011. My decision became set after I reread Sherman Alexie’s Wall Street Journal article on young adult literature. I sought the article out after a chance conversation with a friend. In the article, Alexie states, “I write to give them [teenagers] weapons—in the form of words and ideas—that will help them fight their monsters.”  Alexie’s words resonated with something deep and strong inside me. Facilitating that sort of self-empowerment, through words and ideas, is what makes my career as a librarian a vocation.

For WBN 2013, I have chosen to give away Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth as my first choice. I will be returning to Micah House and, again, focusing my book giving on youth and teens. And, like last year, one of my greatest hopes and wishes is for young people to realize their own power, to find solace, comfort, and strength in words and ideas.

Melissa I. Cardenas-Dow
Outreach/Behavioral Sciences Librarian
Armacost Library, University of Redlands

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