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A Book Giver’s Tale of World Book Night

April 24, 2012

Every once in a while I get to participate in something that is so amazing that I feel happy and blessed for hours and days afterwards. I am so fortunate to have had that experience yesterday by participating in World Book Night.

Tens of thousands of people were chosen as book givers and went into their communities to share their love of reading and give away free paperback books, including me! I knew back when I applied to be a book giver the exact group I would give the books to: San Diego State University (SDSU) Guardian Scholar students.

The Guardian Scholars Program helps kids who are exiting the foster care system achieve their dream of a college degree. The program provides scholarship and financial aid to these students, as well as a nurturing environment with advisers and resources, as well as university housing, to assure the students succeed in college.

Each year 300 San Diego kids “age out” of the foster care system when they turn 18-years-old.  Half the kids end up unemployed. One-third require public assistance. And one out of four youth will become incarcerated. The SDSU Guardian Scholars Program helps these former foster youth — who have already overcome significant obstacles — pursue their dream of a college education.

I spent Monday afternoon with a group of Guardian Scholar students on the SDSU campus. I introduced myself; told them about World Book Night; and why I selected Little Bee as my book to give away. Energy and excitement radiated from the students in the room. They were engaged, asking intellegent questions about books, writing, publishing, ebooks and the future of printed literature. Eyes lit up when they realized their books were unique, one-of-a-kind editions.

One student took notes (although I assured her there would be no quiz at the end). A young man admitted he wanted to read more and is excited to have Little Bee as his starting point. And another gal asked how she can get involved in a World Book Night for children.

I chose these students not only because I wanted them to have their own unique World Book Night book. But also because I want the world to learn about these incredible students and the Guardian Scholars Program. These kids have been through so much and I am honored I was able to play a small role in their lives through World Book Night. I am grateful to the publishers, authors, bookstores, and World Book Night organizers for creating a magical event based on our collective love of reading and words.

I am honored to be among a group of SDSU Guardian Scholar students and their World Book Night books.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2012 3:19 am

    What a wonderful program! You chose a great book to give the students-how lucky they are to be SDSU Guardian Scholars and to have you as a mentor. Well done.

  2. April 24, 2012 6:22 am

    I heard about Book night for the first time on my commute home last night. How fitting that you would be participating in it — neat!

    Cheers to you Leah 🙂

  3. April 24, 2012 6:27 am

    Wow, World Book Night and the Guardian Scholars both sound like amazing programs. A great fit! Nice book selection as well. Very cool, kudos to you!

  4. April 24, 2012 7:05 am

    What a great place to donate your books, Leah. These are EXACTLY the kinds of readers that the program was geared towards and kudos to you for taking the time to meet with them. I took mine to the Juvenile Detention Facility in Kearny Mesa and, while it was all the things you described, I wish I could have been able to meet with the kids who would receive the books. I took The Things They Carried, and my wish is that these kids “carry” something away with them when they are released and make better choices in life the next time around. Books are so inspiring and empowering!

  5. Erin permalink
    April 24, 2012 7:42 am

    Leah, that’s amazing!! I think there should be a WBN component geared specifically to kids. How cool would that be? 🙂

  6. April 24, 2012 8:01 am

    What a wonderful program!

  7. April 24, 2012 9:21 am

    Great choice of who to share these books with, Leah. My daughter worked with foster care kids here in Phoenix, and some of the stories she told me of kids who ‘age out’ were very sad. I’m so glad to hear your news about these kids who are being given such a wonderful opportunity, and all the support they continue to receive. They look like a happy, bound for success group. Cheers to them, and to you.

  8. April 24, 2012 3:44 pm

    This is WONDERFUL, Leah. I got goosebumps just reading about the scholars program (I am a longtime Big Brothers Big Sisters member – won Big Sis of the year for the state of Arizona a few years back). You never know what kind of an impact your gesture might make! And that it involves a book about which you are passionate … priceless! LIttle Bee is still on my shelf, to be read!

  9. Lena permalink
    April 24, 2012 4:29 pm

    Great book and great cause! Little Bee is a book I read very fast, could not put it down, but is one that stays with me..

  10. April 24, 2012 5:02 pm

    SO cool!

  11. April 24, 2012 9:20 pm

    LOVE this!!!

  12. April 25, 2012 3:34 am

    My initial reaction was to want to cry, I was so blessed by reading this! What a tremendous cause you chose, I can’t imagine a worthier one, and what a privilege to share with these young people on the cusp of adult life. Well done my friend, well done, I am so proud of YOU!

  13. April 26, 2012 1:17 pm

    What an awesome cause! and so rewarding!

  14. April 27, 2012 1:01 am

    What a marvelous event that you participated in Leah. Great program.

  15. April 27, 2012 9:52 pm

    I have never heard of that World Book Night. You chose your recipients wisely. Love the picture!

  16. April 29, 2012 10:02 am

    That is SO cool! I had no idea there was such a program! You really chose well and those folks will never forget! HUGS to you!

  17. April 30, 2012 6:40 am

    I’m just seeing this post. I found out about World Book Night to participate because of previous appointments, although I did write about it. I hope next year to become involved. Sounds like you got a generation reading. Great job, Leah.


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