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Books. They hold infinite power. They can transport us to new worlds, teach us new things, inspire us, make us laugh, cry, and can provide us with essential memories. As a child, some of your fondest memories may have been the stories you read before bed, or the books you read growing up. As a teenager, you may have continued to read and find a love for books. As adults, maybe you still read or maybe you gave up reading, but you will always have those fond childhood memories of your time inside stories. While many also celebrate Valentine’s Day today, consider using this day for the greater good and to spread some cheer through books!

History of Book Giving Day

Whether you want to admit it or not, you probably enjoy giving and receiving gifts. There is no denying the special moment when you receive a wrapped package and get to find out what’s inside. Or, as the gift giver, when you get to watch someone you love as they smile opening your present. This day is devoted to instilling a lifelong love of reading, especially in children, and providing books for children in need. 

This day originally started in the United Kingdom. However, over the years the day has spread and book lovers around the world now partake in the celebrations. The holiday was started by Amy Broadmoore and her son, through Delightful Children’s Books, who conceived the original idea in 2012, after noticing a need for books for children in underfunded areas. The mother-son duo then worked with Zoe Toft to develop the day. After creating the event and working on developing celebrations and incentives, they passed the day over to Emma Perry in 2013, who currently runs the day’s website. The site defines the day as a “100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.” 

While Book Giving Day does not host large organized events, they instead encourage volunteers to act out of their own goodwill. Volunteers, or holiday celebrators, are encouraged to gift a book to a child. This book can be your favorite book, one you haven’t read, or one you think a child would love. This day is now celebrated officially in over 44 countries, with countries participating in six out of the seven continents!

Benefits of Books

Through plenty of research studies, scientists have proven the benefits of both books and out loud reading to people of all ages, but especially for children. One of the biggest benefits is the bond formed from reading. Children are often shown to form warmer and stronger emotional bonds to those that read books to them. By creating a ritual of reading to your child, you can create a strong bond and instil lifelong memories for them. 

In addition to the emotional benefits, books also provide children with psychological and cognitive benefits. Books, more than any other form of media, are shown to be the most fundamental on kid’s language development. Children that are encouraged to read develop larger vocabularies at a quicker rate. Books are also shown to develop a child’s critical thinking. When books are read by just the child, (either alone out loud or in their head) they can develop stronger critical thinking skills and develop social cues and emotional intelligence. A child’s imagination is also nurtured when they can experience different worlds through the lens of a book. 

Books don’t only have benefits for children, they have benefits for all ages. Regular readers are proven to have higher social-emotional intelligence, quicker decision-making times, and better self-expression and vocabulary. Books can give us better moral and ethical views and can challenge our ideas on the world (and expand them). Reading gives us knowledge, creates questions, answers them, and offers a great escape– regardless of age!

How to celebrate Book Giving Day

As mentioned above, today is all about giving a book to a friend, loved one, or child (as the day was originally intended for). There are multiple ways you can celebrate this day! Consider giving a book to your child or your friend’s or family’s children. If you’re a parent or an older sibling, consider gifting your child or younger sibling a new book to read at bedtime. If you want to extend this past just today, consider buying a new children’s book now and then and making family time out of reading it!

If you do not have children of your own or want to expand your giving, consider book donations. Many book lovers around the world celebrate this day by donating new or used books to children’s libraries, schools, foster homes, or charities. If you’re looking for an even more creative (and anonymous) way to follow the giving spirit, consider leaving a book in a place for those to discover. Some people do this by leaving children’s books in doctor’s offices, waiting rooms, public transit, and other places. 

Looking for more ways to get involved? The organizers of Book Giving Day support the holiday by sharing the stories of those gifting books around the world, as well as offering bonuses for book giving, such as holiday bookplates and other incentives. You can find out about the variety of social media hashtags, community events, and other incentives at bookgivingday.com. 

Whether you’re a reader or not, use today to foster the imagination, creativity, and joy of reading in someone you love! So, find a book– new, old, or favorite– and donate or gift it to a child in your life!

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