International Book Giving Day 2016 – and how you can help

posted in: Books in the community | 8

Save the date! It’s time to start planning now!


International Book Giving Day #bookgivingday takes place on 14th February each year. The aim of the day is to get books into the hands of as many children as possible thereby increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books.

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative born out of the knowledge that:

  • Most children in developing countries do not own books.
  • In the United Kingdom, one-third of children do not own books.
  • In the United States, two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books.

  • International Book Giving Day’s focus is on encouraging people worldwide to give a book to a child on February 14th. Why not use the day as an excuse to:

    1) gift a book to a friend or family member,
    2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read, or
    3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need internationally.

    For this year’s International Book Giving Day, I’ve teamed up with Sara Stanley who is currently volunteering creating safe and welcoming play spaces for children in a refugee camp in Grande-Synthe , Dunkirk, France.

    The children of the camp have few possessions and even fewer opportunities to play. Many show clear signs of trauma after fleeing violence and enduring treacherous journeys to Europe. Quiet safe spaces to read are limited and there are plans to build a structure to house a library.

    How can I help?

    Sara and I would like to invite you to donate a book for the children in the refugee camp in Grande-Synthe. We’re working with independent book seller MarilynBrocklehurst who runs The Norfolk Children’s Book Centre; order any book you’d like to donate via Marilyn and she will act as a collection point for Sara, who will take the books to the camp following International Book Giving Day. Sara won’t only take the books, she’ll use them in her play with the children in the refugee camp, so you can be sure that any book(s) you choose will actually get into the hand of kids for whom the books will make a real difference.

    Sara reading with children in the refugee camp
    Sara reading with children in the refugee camp

    Languages spoken on camp are Urdu, Farsi and Sorani Kurdish, though of course residents in the camp are keen to learn English. Children of every age from newborns up to young adults are found in the camp, with the majority being 3-11 years old.

    The camp is moving sometime mid to late January onto a better site in Dunkirk and Sara will be organising a better library space. A wonderful refugee called Besh will be helping run reading groups and philosophical play sessions with Sara as well as family share-a-story sessions. So as you can see, the books you could choose to send will really be used, helping to create a space where play and fun can still take place.

    Part of the camp at Grande-Synthe
    Part of the camp at Grande-Synthe

    You can order any book you’d like to donate to the children’s library at Grand-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk by phone or online, including from overseas. Full details can be found here. Anyone around the world can order a book this way. As well as books aimed at 3-11 year olds and books in the languages mentioned above, wordless books, comic books and books which might help children and families around issues many of them have experienced – war, escape, displacement, death – are especially welcome. There are also more general recommended booklists on the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre website.

    The current indoor play space at Grande-Synthe
    The current indoor play space at Grande-Synthe

    Your donations will help provide a wonderful opportunity for families to rebuild a sense of normality and communication in the universal language of imagination.

    If you would like to help Sara in her work here again is what you need to get you started: – Norfolk Children’s Book Centre website with full details of how to order a book (or more) for Sara’s volunteer work in Dunkirk with refugees.

    8 Responses

    1. Jean

      A great idea and I am going to pass it on to a school which I visit in the hope they will get involved.

    2. lmogen May

      Wonderful project, just amazing, thank you for doing this. Is there any way l can donate books from home? I have a very low income, and my daughter who is 10, has just had a clear out of a lot of books which are headed to the charity shop.They are all in good condition and are diverse in content, from story books to factual, thank you.

      • Zoe

        Hi Imogen, I’m not sure that these will be what they are looking for in the play space at Dunkirk, though it is very kind of you to offer. Taking books to charity shops is always a possibility – Oxfam have a particularly good system set up for book donations, with dedicated bookshops, and a distribution system that moves books around to different shops. Otherwise, you could take a look at my list of other reading/literacy charities, some of whom accept lightly used / 2nd hand books

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