Thursday, April 26, 2012

World Book Night USA 2012

Perhaps you saw us at the train station, or in your school, or place of work. Maybe you passed us on the busy street corner and never gave us a second look. We were there. Over 25,000 of us spent the day and evening of April 23, 2012 giving out 500,000 books to readers (and non-readers) all across the United States. Why?

We were part of World Book Night USA, 2012.

Haven’t heard of it? I’m not surprised. This is the first World Book Night in the United States, but hopefully not the last.

WBN, according to its Facebook page, is a “charitable initiative designed to spread the joy and love of reading.”

It was started in the United Kingdom in 2011 and quickly gained interest here in the United States. April 23 was picked because it is UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Book Day (as well the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death).

I was lucky enough to hear about it on Facebook. Children’s Book World, in Haverford, PA, which was a book pick-up location for the event, posted a link to WBN a few months ago. When I looked into it further, I knew I would be participating.

The process was simple: review the list of 30 books offered (including Kindred, Enders Games, Little Bee, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Poisonwood Bible and The Stand) and pick your top three choices that you would like to share with others. A few weeks later, WBN emailed you your title, and included a list of locations (mostly bookstores and libraries) in your area where you could pick up your books.

I chose Dave Egger’s book, Zeitoun, which describes the trials and tribulations one man faces after Hurricane Katrina. It is a powerful book that I read a few years ago and still can’t get out of my head.

Each book giver was given 20 paperbacks of their title. Your goal was to get these free books into as many hands as possible, with the hopes of encouraging light or non-readers to get excited about reading.

What an incredible opportunity: giving out free books!

I decided to give my books to The Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, a part of Project H.O.M.E., in Philadelphia. I was told that the teachers were excited to incorporate the books into their daily lessons.

I know of others who were handing their books out at local colleges, train stations, retirement homes, even car pick-up lines at schools.

Why am I going on and on about this event that is now over and done? Two reasons: First, I want to encourage you to visit the WBN website ( and find out more about this incredible project. (At the very least, you will find their list of 30 inspirational titles and perhaps find a new book to read.)

Second, I have such a love of books that I want to share this passion with others, and encourage you to do the same. While we all can’t afford to buy 20 books and hand them out on a daily basis, we can certainly take a book we have read and loved and give it to someone we think would appreciate it, whether we know them or not.

So next April 23, when someone hands you a book and asks you to read it, or share it with others, take it and thank them, and spread the word.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We're All Moms

It was the quote heard around the world: Ann Romney has “never worked a day in her life.”

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen was discussing Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s alleged disconnect with women voters and, inadvertently, according to Ms. Rosen, restarted the age-old debate between stay-at-home moms and working moms.

Rosen has since apologized, saying she never meant to start this argument. “I respect women and moms all the time... This is not a debate between working moms and stay-at-home moms.”

But unfortunately, that’s exactly what is has turned into, and it certainly isn’t a new discussion.

Every few years, someone writes a book, publishes an article or reports on a survey that pits (stay-at-home) mothers against (working) mothers. And for what purpose?

We are all moms; we all work; we all love our children; and we are all doing the best we can. That’s it. What more is there to say?

Motherhood is the toughest “job” in the world, with no pay, often times cranky and/or sick co-workers and crazy hours. (Luckily the benefits make it all worthwhile.)

I have been lucky enough to be able to stay at home and raise my children. It isn’t easy – financially, emotionally or mentally. Many a morning, I wished I was leaving with my husband, instead of cleaning up vomit while trying to soothe a crying baby with Barney singing in the background – all on 3 hours of sleep! However, I wouldn’t have changed any of it. (Well, almost any of it!)

Many of my friends and family members work outside the house, either out of necessity or by choice. They too deal with sick, crying children and then need to “dress up” and head to an office and pretend their minds are on their jobs, and not the children they left behind.

Is one better than the other? Of course not.

One of the toughest emotions every mother has to deal with is guilt – are we doing enough for our children?

If we are at home, we wonder if we should be working to bring in extra money to help our family and/or to show our children, especially our daughters, that we can be independent.

If we are working, perhaps we feel we should be at home raising our children ourselves, instead of having others experience their first word or first step.

So many of us beat ourselves up, wondering if we are doing the right thing. Well, here’s the point – there really isn’t one “right thing” for everyone. You have to do what is right for you and your family. And that decision is no one else’s business.

I believe Ms. Rosen when she says she wasn’t attacking Mrs. Romney for her decision to stay at home and raise her children. What upsets me is that her poor choice of words has started this debate between moms - again. We battle our children, our husbands and our bosses. Do we really need to battle each other?

We are all doing the best we can. I know one mom who uses that phrase as her mantra. When things get tough – she is running late to pick up her daughter or she forgets to send in snack for Girl Scouts – she tells herself, “I’m doing the best I can.”

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Doing the best that we can – at home, at work, with our spouses, our families and in our lives. We’re all moms – let’s stick together.