Children are often the ones being encouraged by adults to read, but on World Book Night in Winchester, the roles were reversed.
Last week, 15 Lynch Elementary School students and their chaperones teamed up for the second time to participate in the international program dedicated to giving free books to adults who don’t normally read, can’t afford books, or don’t have easy access to them.
“The goal is to become a giver organization and to give first-round, best-seller books to people who might not have access to new books,” said Lynch Elementary principal Christine Kelley, who helped organize distribution.
World Book Night is held on April 23, which is UNESCO’s International Day of the Book as well as Shakespeare’s birthday. The event began in Europe in 2011 and is overseen by a nonprofit of the same name. Last year, the program made its way to the United States, with 25,000 volunteers passing out about 500,000 books.
Participants are typically individuals who take a box of 20 books and hand them out in a public place. Lynch representatives contacted the organization last year, and their application was accepted. Students and adult helpers gave out 220 books in 2012, and the positive feedback they got prompted them to do it again this year.
“I think it’s rare that a school does it,” said Kelley. “This is now an annual thing for us.”
On Monday April 22, students in grades 1 through 5 and their adult chaperones sorted 220 paperback books they received in boxes from World Book Night.
The 2013 book selection, which includes popular titles like “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” “The Alchemist,” and Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” was donated by the publishers. They are special edition, not-for-resale books for which the authors agreed to forgo royalties.
The crew then delivered the books to five local destinations. They visited the Council of Social Concern in Woburn, Winchester Hospital, Jenk’s Rest senior center, Winchester ABC, and the Gables retirement community.
After the books were handed out, the youngsters took pictures with recipients, holding up a poster they made reading “Lynch celebrates World Book Night” made by the fifth-grade student council at Lynch.
“Last year, the pictures of the recipients were just so cute, a bunch of seniors smiling, holding books,” said Kelley. “It’s just another way to tie generations together and promote the love of reading, which is part of our mission.”
Kelley added that while the event benefits the recipients, it is also a positive experience for the givers.
“We do a lot of community service [at Lynch Elementary], but there aren’t a lot of opportunities where the families do it together,” she said.
Kelley cited the culture of community service at the school as part of the reason that the students enjoyed World Book Night so much. She said that despite their young age, the students appreciate the ability to spread their love of learning.
“That was the kids’ favorite part of it, seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” she said.