World Book Night Gives out Half a Million Free Books: Locally, SUNY RCC Students Lead the Way

BY CAROLYN JOHNSON

On Monday, April 23, from Kodiak, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, in 6,000 towns and cities across America, 25,000 volunteers gave away half a million free books on one day.

Locally, out of many applicants, faculty member and Black Student Union Co-Advisor at SUNY Rockland, Dr. Shamika Mitchell, was chosen to distribute free books in honor of World Book Night. Dr. Mitchell and a group of students, led by the club’s president, Junathan Moses McNeil, stationed tables throughout campus. Encouraging peers to read more, in a population that has more visually stimulating media exposure than any before, is indeed a bold initiative.

Dr. Mitchell explained, “The Black Student Union recognizes the importance of encouraging adult literacy and reading. World Book Night was a unique opportunity to support a special international project; to that end, it was particularly wonderful that our chosen book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou is a classic text in the African-American literary canon. We hope to participate every year this is possible.”

World Book Night U.S. is an ambitious campaign to personally give out thousands of free books across America. Volunteer book lovers help promote reading by going into their communities and handing out free copies of a book they love to new or light readers, reaching them especially in underserved places – and even some fun spots. Volunteers will be picking up the books at a local bookstore or library in order to go out and share them in locations as diverse as VA hospitals, nursing homes, ballparks, mass transit, diners, and more.

Additionally, April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death. For more information about World Book Night, please go to www.worldbooknight.org.