World Book Night, an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books is coming to Petaluma. Held in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland on April 23, the events mobilizes tens of thousands of people to go forth and mint new readers by handing out free paperbacks.
Petaluma resident Alison Parker does not regularly volunteer, but something about this event really got her attention.
“I’m a voracious reader and a total evangelist when it comes to books and reading, so the thought of spreading the joy of a great book was right up my alley,” said Parker, who will distribute 20 paperback copies of "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver.
Organized locally by C, and other bookstores, the event is supported by publishers who provide specially produced not-for-resale paperback editions of 30 titles. The date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the writer Miguel de Cervantes’ death and Shakespeare’s birth and death. It's also UNESCO's World Book Day.
About 20 volunteers each select one title and promise to deliver a box of books to a group of their choice, which could include destinations such as senior living centers, homeless shelters, transit centers, hospitals or children’s homes.
Many of the Petaluma volunteers can’t fathom a world without the pleasure of turning the pages of real books.
“I was reading at age three and cannot imagine a life without books. Yet our libraries hours are reduced, (some) school libraries are closed. The thought of giving a book to another person was irresistible,” said Clarice Stasz, who works at COTS and will be helping distribute Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" at the Mary Isaak Center.
"It seemed like a perfect selection for the people who are in life transition,” said Stasz.
From Alaska to Florida, in over American 6,000 towns, volunteers will give away half a million free books on the evening of April 23.
“This is the inaugural year for World Book Night in the United States. It’s too late to sign up for this year, but we’re inviting book lovers go online and sign up now for next year,” said Vicki DeArmon of Copperfield’s Books.
Shannon Trayle, who also works at COTS will be handing out "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving.
“We sometimes feel we can’t change the world," Trayle says. "We can feel overwhelmed by what seem to be insurmountable problems. But one step at a time, one person sharing one transformative story, we can make a difference.”