Last week, I talked about my experience with the Little Free Library program, and how it has allowed my family to share our passion for reading with our community. To follow up, here’s my list of five of my favorite book and comic-based opportunities celebrating the beauty of the written word:
We geek parents know Free Comic Book Day, the first Saturday in May, like we know our kids’ birthdays. This is the day that participating comic book sellers offer selected free comics for anyone and everyone of all ages. Since the first Free Comic Book Day in 2002, thousands of shops worldwide have joined in on the fun, exposing more and more people to the literary and visual art amalgam of the comic book.
Its popularity has spawned a companion fall event, Halloween ComicFest, held in late October. In addition to free comics, most with a dark or spooky edge, it’s also one of the best online costume and cosplay contests for both youth and adults, which they humbly call The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest Ever. I’m not too proud to admit that my own daughter came a close second to winning her age category for her original Lord of the Rings: War in the North video game-inspired costume of warrior elf, Andriel. This Halloween event isn’t quite as big as its spring counterpart, but if the rising appeal of both comics and Halloween continues, it may soon well be.
To learn more about why I love Free Comic Book Day, check out Five Reasons Why All Moms Should Embrace Free Comic Book Day.
This has been Halloween tradition since 2010, with some pretty big names in eerie literature wholeheartedly endorsing it, most notably Neil Gaiman, who started it all on his blog by asking followers to give each other scary books.
“Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle,” Gaiman proposed. “Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy…Give someone a scary book for Halloween. Make their flesh creep…”
That was all there was to that, and All Hallows Read continues. People can hand out scary age-appropriate books (new or second-hand) as trick-or-treat and carnival prizes or gifts, or just leave them lying around public areas. The official site often includes printable All Hallows Read labels, encouraging people to “Take This Book.” There is no easier way to share books and comics than just leaving them in high-traffic areas where people can find them. I inadvertently do this year-round, and now I have a perfectly sound excuse.
This largely European-based reading awareness event is known in some countries as International Day of the Book or World Book and Copyright Day. It was created in 1995 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) to promote reading and publishing. Celebrations and observances are held on or around April 23 to mark the date both celebrated writers Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died. Different countries mark this occasion in their own way, including giving reading vouchers to school-aged youth as they do in the United Kingdom.
Similar international celebrations, with many in the United States, include World Book Night, also on April 23; International Children’s Book Day, observed on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday in early April; and El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Day of the Children/Day of the Books). The later, El día de los niños, was born in Mexico, and is a popular community event in several United States/Mexico border cities, including my hometown of El Paso, Texas. This day features community celebrations of family marked with book giveaways and entertainment.
Has there actually been a day created promoting both reading and Star Wars? Yes, there has! Be still my heart. This is one of the newer reading adventures for families, as Lucasfilm and their many publishing partners created it in 2012 for the sole purpose of celebrating reading. Held the first Saturday in October, the inaugural event was immediately embraced by more than 1,200 bookstores, schools, and libraries.
Just how and where the event is celebrated is up to the hosting venue, and Lucasfilm provides downloadable trivia kits, crafts, and activity suggestions online. Many venues opt for activities like storytelling, book and prize giveaways and, of course, cosplay…it is Star Wars, after all. What’s the fun without some 501st Legion members helping out?
This NEA (National Education Association) project is probably the most well-known in American schools and is especially popular among students and teachers. Held on the school day closest to Dr. Seuss’s birthday—March 2—the party encourages reading and storytelling events, some with celebrity readers who might don a jaunty red and white striped hat in celebration of Seuss’s iconic literary cat.
Through Read Across America, NEA also works closely with the group First Book, which has distributed more than 100 million books to children in need in more than 50,000 schools and programs. That is a bunch of books and a bunch of happy young readers. What could be better?