We all love giving and receiving books. Do you attach stories to books you were given? Do you remember who gave you a certain book and when, where and why they decided to? What is your favourite book you were given as a present? The other day, after watching The Theory of Everything in the cinema, I remembered that someone had given me a hard cover copy of A Brief History of Time, written by Stephen Hawking, probably twenty years ago. It was such a nice moment to find the book on a shelf, knowing that it was a present, and somebody picked it thinking of me. It brought back a series of book-related memories. Books I had given to others (usually books that I myself liked a lot), and books that I was given as a child (big books when I did something brave), or the book I gave myself as a reward for getting my first teaching job. Not only sales reports, but our own sentiments prove the power of paper books. The small tears on the paper, the earmarks, the coffee stains on the pages, the smell of used books, the smell of freshly printed books, the colour of old pages … they all tell us stories of the places these books have travelled with us, and they all recall the memories which make up the story of the book.
International Book Giving Day is the perfect day for book lovers – the date is easy to remember as it is on Valentine’s Day. So here’s an idea. If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, do it with a book. If you don’t, no need to worry, just celebrate books and give a book to someone: a family member, a friend, a colleague or just someone you know. You can also organize activities in your classroom with your students. They will also have book stories to share.
1 Create a ‘My Favourite Book Present’ wall poster.
Stick a large sheet of paper onto the classroom wall (A3 size will work well), and just make some columns. You can add ‘The best book I have ever been given’ or ‘My book wishlist’ or ‘Books I’d like to give to my someone’. You can use this poster either as a reference poster for discussions or you can start your own Book Giving Day event.
2 Have a book lesson with your class.
Imagine that you can dedicate a full lesson to books! You do not necessarily have to ask your students to give books to each other as it might be financially demanding for some of them. But you can certainly organize book related acitivities for a whole lesson. Present your favourite book you were given as a child, and ask your students to find out more about it and decide if they would like it. Then ask your students to bring their favourite books to class and present them (for example, they can talk about who gave it to them and on what occasion). Give them some homework, too. Little and big students can ask their parents about the books they were given.
3 Organize your own mini Book Giving Day event.
You can either decide to ask your students if they are interested in picking pairs and giving each other books. It might even be better if you ask them to give each other books that they have already read and would really like to share with someone else. Make sure you dedicate some time to preparing book plates in class. You can use the free downloadble resources (bookmarks, bookplates, posters) from the International Book Giving Day website.
4 Organize a Book Giving Day party with your young adult and adult Book Clubs.
Are you running your own Book Club? You should definitely celabrate this special day with your Book Club members. You can give used or new novels, albums, poetry books, non-fiction books – use your imagination and give a book to a fellow reader!
You can also have a short discussion about gift books. Here are some questions.
- Do you remember the first book you were ever given?
- Do you remember the books you gave to someone else?
- Do you remember a book you received but did not like?
- Do you remember a book you got a a present and have read it several times since then?
- Do you remember a book you have bought several copies of just so that you would be able to give it to others?
5 Do one of the activities suggested by International Book Giving Day.
Go to the Celebrate page on the Book Giving Day website and read about these two options:
- Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
- Donate a Book.
You will find lots of excellent ideas and beautifully illustrated downloadable bookplates and bookmarks on their website.
What about you? Are you going to give a book to a friend, a relative or a student?