World Book Night returns to the US

After reading celebration World Book Night debuted in America for the first time last year, it will be held again this April.

Luke Macgregor/Reuters
A volunteer distributes books as part of World Book Night.

World Book Night will be held in America for the second year after kicking off its first US celebration last April.

During the event, volunteers give out certain titles to friends, family, and people they meet on the street when they stand on street corners. The event was founded by UNESCO and started in the UK and Ireland in 2011, coming to America and Germany for the first time in 2012. World Book Night is celebrated on April 23 because the date is also William Shakespeare's birthday. In the four countries combined, more than 2.5 million books were given out by 80,000 volunteers last year. The honorary chairpersons for this year's event are "State of Wonder" author Ann Patchett and writer James Patterson, whose children's book "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" will be one of the titles to be distributed.

"What better way to spread a love for reading than to inspire passionate readers to go out into their communities and share copies of their favorite books with those who don’t regularly read?" the organization's website reads. "Giving is an incredibly powerful part of our culture – and culture, art, and a writers’ talent are all themselves ‘gifts’."

The titles that will be given out by volunteers are selected by a panel of librarians and those in the book business, and those who distributed books in the last celebration can suggest books to be considered. This year, novels that will be distributed include "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisnero, "The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, and "My Antonia" by Willa Cather, among other titles. Nonfiction picks include "Bossypants" by Tina Fey and "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis. Cisnero's book and the novel "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho will also be available in Spanish.

"We received a few strange stares, a couple of 'no thank you's, but generally our audience was accepting of Strange Ladies Bearing Free Books," 2012 giver and Scholastic employee Shanella Ramiall wrote on the Scholastic website. "We were asked for more information by several people and I got the opportunity to explain in detail what World Book Night is and why we were giving the books away. Overall it was an amazing experience, even for this bookish introvert."

Books given out as part of the celebration have sometimes experience sales bumps after the give-away, with titles such as "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" by John Le Carré seeing sales triple after being distributed during the 2010 World Book Night.

Last year, it was noted that, in a book industry that's frosty towards its competitor Amazon, the book giant is one of the few booksellers that wasn't asked to sponsor the event, despite the participation of companies like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. For the record, Amazon is missing from the 2013 World Book Night website's list of sponsors, though Barnes & Noble is again included.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to World Book Night returns to the US
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today