A Book Giver’s Tale of World Book Night

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.

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