Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

World Book Night, or In Which I Fail at Library* (by Robin)


April 23rd was the second annual World Book Nightcelebration in the United States. Briefly, individuals sign up to receive a box of twenty copies of a single title to hand out to light readers and non-readers that evening. The publishers and authors of the titles available give up their royalties, and special copies are printed for distribution. Ideally, everyone takes his or her box out into the community on the evening of April 23rd and unleashes a flood of reading opportunity.
This was my second year participating. As a middle school librarian, I see the need for individuals to have more access to reading material on a daily basis. I also feel strongly that owning books and having a variety available in the home contributes powerfully to literacy outcomes. World Book Night is an opportunity for me to have a positive impact on a cause I believe in on both a personal and professional level.  
Christie reads Ender’s Game for the 1st time
Last year I signed up for Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Regardless of my opinion of his personal politics, Ender’s Gameis the best science fiction novel I’ve ever read. It is the yardstick by which I measure all the others. Additionally, in my time working with middle schoolers, I’ve found it to be remarkably easy to ‘hand sell.’ I follow a brief summary of the plot with the warning, “But it’s pretty violent, so I wouldn’t read it if that will bother you.” It works every time. And even though it was cold and drizzling on the evening of April 23rd, 2012, I had no problem distributing my copies.
This year, as I read through the list of available titles my eyes landed on two likely candidates – The Lightning Thief and Looking for Alaska. After considering the age groupings of the youth in my neighborhood, I decided to go for Looking for Alaska. I am a huge fan of John Green and love his books. I’ve read all of his books and enjoyed them greatly. I was very excited when I found out I would be getting a box of Looking for Alaska to distribute!

I happily picked up my box for World Book Night at my local distribution center (my local, independent book store), and put the box in the trunk of my car. Over the next couple of days I began to feel uneasy, but couldn’t quite put my finger on the cause. As I began planning how I would distribute the books I remembered. Looking for Alaska is the one John Green book I didn’t finish. I’ve only read half of it. Those of you who have read it will know exactly where I stopped. If you haven’t read it…you should probably stop reading here. Approximately 6 months before I picked up Looking for AlaskaI lost my best friend to cancer. ‘Best friend’ doesn’t really cover it, but I don’t think we have a decent descriptor for what she was to me in our language. More like a sister, really. I never finished the book because I couldn’t see well enough to read through my tears. Each time I picked it up I began sobbing. It was more than I could handle. I put the book back on the shelf, and did a fairly good job of pushing it into the darkest recesses of my memory. Some of you might wonder how I could have so easily forgotten my response to it. My only answer is that grief does really weird things to your brain. There is a lot I can’t remember from the first two years after Shannon died.
Picture from IMGFAVE
April 23rd came and went. I walk by my box of books every morning on my way to work. Eventually I know I will find a library colleague who works with older teens who will be able to make good use of these books. Until then, they are a reminder of the fact that sometimes I fail at library, and I need to learn to forgive myself.
*This odd title comes from a Tweet I can no longer find (I think the author erased it.) When I read it, it struck a chord deep within my librarian’s heart. Sometimes we all feel like we’ve failed at library. You are not alone.