As avid readers, many of us in the book blog community have experienced the transformative power of words in our own lives. But how can we pass on our love of reading and make books more accessible to others? Below I have a few suggestions for ways that we in the book community can “pass it on.”
Buy the Books You Enjoy
If you have the money, consider buying copies of the ARCS you received if you enjoyed them and want to see more of the type of work a particular author is doing. Money is what speaks to businesses, so contributing to the financial success of a book encourages publishers to keep releasing a series, to continue working with a specific author, or to seek out authors who do similar things (such as focus on diversity).
Pirating a book or a textbook is never morally acceptable, even if you think the price of the book is too high. The money for that book is going towards the people who made it happen–the author, the editors, the marketing team, the art department, etc. They deserve to be paid for their hard work if you choose to consume it.
Use Your Local Library
No money for books? No problem. Check out books from your local library. Libraries in America are increasingly fighting for funding as they are attacked for being irrelevant and out-of-date. Every book or DVD checked out is another statistic they can use to ask for more funding and to ensure that their doors stay open for those in our society who don’t have the financial means to buy books, own a laptop, or pay for the Internet at home. Attending library programs, using their online databases, renewing your library card, or asking a question at the desk are also statistics they can collect to demonstrate patron usage.
Donate Your Books
If you have a lot of books you didn’t like or don’t plan on rereading, consider donating them to a school, a library, a single mothers’ home, or a literacy program. Find a cause you want to support and contribute. It may seem odd to those of us who grew up surrounded by books, but some children don’t have books at home and perhaps may not have easy access to a library (even a school one), either. Some people may love books but may not be able to afford them. Why shouldn’t we share our bookish wealth with them?
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for book lovers to consider. You might shelve books or inspect and clean returned materials at your local library. You might read to children or tutor adults who are learning English. You might sort through books that have been donated to a local organization or bring library books to patients in a hospital. Find a cause you care about and donate your time.
Encourage a Love of Reading
We in the blog community know what it feels like to be told that the books we’re reading are trash or aren’t good enough somehow–witness the hate levelled at YA. These kinds of judgments can be discouraging for readers. So if you see someone reading a genre you don’t enjoy, a book you hate, or an age range you think inappropriate for them, take a moment to consider how your words might affect them. If we tell a child he shouldn’t read comics or that he’d better stop listening to audiobooks and start “really” reading, are we taking away the one way he knows how to access literature? If we tell a girl she shouldn’t be reading “boy” books or that she’s too old or too young for MG, are we making it seem like reading is no longer a pleasurable activity but yet another way to subject her to potential ridicule and scorn? Let’s find ways to encourage reading and build people up, rather than make them feel bad about an activity they ought to enjoy.
Be Respectful of Differences
It’s easy to want to correct a person who mispronounces a word when reading aloud, to inform someone that they’ve mangled the poetry with their terrible reading, to point out all the grammar mistakes someone makes when writing. But not everyone comes from the same background. Some have had more experience with standard English than others. Making fun of someone’s reading or writing because they’re not as familiar with words or sentence structure as others discourages these individuals from continuing to try and to keep learning. After all, who wants to practice reading and writing if they’re just going to be ridiculed for it? We should be celebrating the efforts of others to read, to write, to learn, and encouraging them in their efforts, not pointing out all the things they did wrong.
What other ways can we promote literacy and a love of books?