Love is not the only reason to celebrate on Feb. 14. This day also is known as International Book Giving Day, a holiday observed all over the world by sharing new, used or borrowed books with other book lovers, especially children who might not have access to them. Amy Broadmoore, a K-5 school librarian and blogger, sparked the idea in 2012 as a way to get books to children in communities of need. Emma Perry, a children’s book author in the United Kingdom, saw the social media frenzy and reached out to Broadmoore to offer help. In 2013, Perry took over the project, and it has grown into a volunteer initiative reaching more than 44 countries.
For many of us, the love of books started early in life, with something as simple as a picture book. But not all kids have the opportunity to access books, and those that do often can’t find much variety in their reading choices. According to Scholastic, four in 10 kids said they have trouble finding books they like.
The North Cobb Regional Library in Kennesaw recognizes the importance of children having access to a variety of books from an early age. Children’s librarian Janet Wingard said International Book Giving Day is “a great idea. Having access to books is a major factor in a child’s ability to read and excel in all other subjects. Access to books at home is just as important as access to books in school.”
The library is committed to strengthening the reading experiences of Kennesaw’s youth by offering community sessions to teach parents to effectively read to their kids during storytimes. “Reading every day to kids is essential, as is setting a routine, such as pajama storytime,” Wingard said. “Repeating books is also helpful because after time, they can tell the story back to you. They’re doing more than just listening; they are following along and retaining the story.”
Wingard’s recommendation for a great children’s book gift is “It’s a Tiger” by David LaRochelle.
“There’s a tiger hiding on every page, which makes it an interactive book for kids,” she said.
The library offers children’s book swaps, family storytimes and more. Of course, the library has events and books for all ages and is a great place to visit for book-giving recommendations.
International Book Giving Day might be focused mostly on children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t receive book gifts as well. Kennesaw author C.D. Gill said a special day devoted to books is a great idea — “There are a lot of posts for book swaps and give/get events,” she noted — but it can be overshadowed by Valentine’s Day.
Gill’s love of reading was hard to escape, as her mother and grandmother were English teachers.
“When you start reading really good books when you’re little, literature that inspires your imagination, it’s hard to let go,” she said. “Stories are intrinsic to our being human — we all love a good story. Even if we don’t like books, we like listening to other people’s stories. Books offer the ability to escape and to learn.”
The award-winning fiction writer’s books come from a point of cultural interest and awareness of social injustices. She had written stories from time to time, but when her father died in 2011, she recalled him telling her to finish what she started. “Behind Lead Doors,” her first self-published novel, was the result.
As for books to give as gifts, Gill recommended “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George for adults and “The Detective Dog” by Julia Donaldson for kids.
To celebrate International Book Giving Day:
- Donate to the library. Visit www.cobbcounty.org/library to learn how to donate books. Also, consider making a financial donation to a book-related charity or give books to a local children’s organization or school.
- Leave a book surprise. Keep a few copies of your favorite book handy to leave behind while out running errands. Include a note that it’s free and to pass it on. Also, leave a book in a local Little Free Library, like the one in Swift-Cantrell Park.
- Host book swaps. Set up a book swap for children or adults in your community, so book lovers can trade books they’ve read for ones they haven’t read.
- Gift a bookmark. Every good book needs a bookmark. Share your creations with others to encourage them to read more.
– Nicole Smith is a writer, book influencer, dog mom and plant enthusiast living in Kennesaw. Connect with her on Instagram at booked4joy.