When I saw the list of this year's books, I knew I wanted to be a Giver. I just had to decide which book and who I wanted to distribute it to. I had to focus on light readers. Here's the list of books - which would you have chosen? I finally selected Looking for Alaska by John Green as my first choice and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward as my second. I reviewed Looking for Alaska in one of my first blog posts. My daughter wrote her first author fan letter after finishing this amazing YA novel. Salvage the Bones is a piece of literary artistry written by a young Mississippi writer. I couldn't lose either way. But a few months later, I received the happy news: I was selected as a Giver and could share Looking for Alaska! I decided to give the books to the seventh and eighth graders I teach two afternoons a week at KIPP Middle School, a magnet school for underserved students in the heart of the city. I am their creative writing teacher in a unique joint project with Writers in the Schools and Aurora Picture Show. They are a rowdy bunch, full of hormones and other distractions, so I was a bit apprehensive about how my generosity would be received.
Finally the big day arrived. I had prepared a poster for my students because I felt I wouldn't have their attention long enough to really tell them what I was doing. I told them I had a "surprise" for them. They asked if it was candy and I said, "No, you know me better than that, what would I think would be the best thing I could give you?" Someone quickly guessed. "Books!"
"Yes!" I said. "I brought you each a special copy of one of my favorite books." I had written each student a letter to go with the book telling them why I loved the book and asking them to email me their thoughts after finishing the book. A couple of them had even read the book already. The students quickly mobbed around me grabbing their book and letter. The students were really sweet and grateful; They couldn't believe the book was theirs for free. I can't wait to hear back from them. World Book Night was a wonderful opportunity to share my love of reading with a population that rarely had the opportunity to receive a free book. Join me next year and spread the love of reading.