On April 23, thousands of people around the world will give more than 2 million free books to friends, family and strangers as part of World Book Night.
And, for the first time in the event’s three-year history, the Richmond Hill Public Library will play a part in promoting reading and literacy across the globe.
“It’s a really great way to promote reading in our area,” assistant librarian Carol Yarley said. “People sign up to be book givers, and publishers and authors provide each giver with 20 free books to give to people in their community.”
More than 30 books are on this year’s giving list. Titles range from national bestsellers — like David Benioff’s “City of Thieves” — to classic favorites, like “The Alchemist” and “Fahrenheit 451.”
“There are also titles available for younger readers,” Yarley said. “The titles ‘Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life’ and ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ are perfect for children 9 and up who are picky readers.”
Registration to become a giver is now closed, but nine people in South Bryan have signed up for the 2013 World Book Night and will be passing out their copies around town.
Library employees will give their books away from 4-7 p.m. at the library and at the Richmond Hill farmers market in J.F. Gregory Park.
Yarley plans to give out her copies of “Bossypants,” written by popular comedienne Tina Fey, at the farmers market.
Retired judge and lawyer Jackie Bailey brought World Book Night to the librarians’ attention after participating in the event last year in Chatham County.
“I signed up last year after I heard about it from a friend in Florida, and I just thought it was a really wonderful, really simple way to encourage reading to people who aren’t ordinarily avid readers,” Bailey said. “So I promptly marched right into the library and said, ‘Ladies, do you know about this?’”
Last year, Bailey gave out copies of “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. She said it was easy to find willing recipients, and that many who received the book told her how much they enjoyed it.
“I could have easily given out a hundred copies. Even in today’s electronic age, there’s nothing like holding a book in your hand and diving into a good story,” she said.
This year, she’ll give out copies of the classic “My Antonia” by Willa Cather.
World Book Night started in the U.K. in 2010. In 2012, givers handed out 2.5 million books in the U.K., U.S., Ireland and Germany.
According to the organization’s website, organizers chose April 23 because it’s UNESCO’s International Day of the book, as well as William Shakespeare’s birthday.
Visit www.worldbooknight.com to find out more about World Book Night or see the full list of this year’s titles.
To learn how to pick up a free copy of one of those titles, call the Richmond Hill Public Library at 756-3580.