World Book Night in “The Lou”
by Jaime Kelley
St. Louis’ first ReadMOB, on April 23, 2012, was a smashing success – in a rather quiet way. The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance had sounded the call for people to join in honor of World Book Night. They organized a mob event – along the lines of a flash mob – focused on reading. A couple hundred of us gathered on the stairs beneath The Arch at lunchtime. The crowd was populated by people of all kinds: from pre-schoolers with picture books to octogenarians, school groups (both public and private), passers-by, corporate folks on their lunch break, academics, and me!
At first, of course, there was a lot of milling about, friendly chatter, and a general hum of excitement. When we were given the signal, though, a sense of calm focus came over us as we all casually walked to our places (marked with chalk on the steps), sat down, and began reading. A hush grew over the crowd, and I could feel the passion and the energy that floated on the breeze. The air was crisp, the sky blue and clear, and the wind gentle. It was a beautiful day to read outside, and wonderful to read outside in the midst of a mob.
(View the video that was created by the organizers of the event – the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6Dy13yvyJc.)
The US World Book Night (WBN) was also a splendid success. Although the count of books distributed was less than originally intended, due to the overwhelming response of people who applied to be givers and the difficulty in responding logistically, over 500,000 free books were given out throughout the US. According to Aimee Levitt of the RFT, St. Louis had one of the highest number of givers per-capita in the country!
We at Walrus had applied to give Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to three non-profit organizations in St. Louis that provide free services for women in abusive relationships: Woman’s Place, ALIVE, and Safe Connections. All three of our recipients were delighted and grateful to have been chosen by us. Angelou’s novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings recounts her own life story and struggles with abuse, injustice, and oppression. Each of our recipients agreed that Angelou’s novel would be a wonderful gift to the clients they serve who are rediscovering their own self-worth, dignity, and freedom to love and be loved.
And, for the love of books, if you are interested in becoming a World Book Night Giver for 2013, sign up early! Go to the USA side of the WBN website, once you’re there sign up for their newsletter to get first word when the giver applications come out this fall. www.us.worldbooknight.org.