Reading has always been important to me. Along with many others, I grew up devouring the works of Roald Dahl and Harry Potter, eventually leading to the complex tales of Tolkien and George RR Martin. During my studies, I learnt about the tales which have been entertaining humanity since our inception, from the figures of Inanna, Medea and Aphrodite to writers such as Shakespeare, the Brontës and Jayadeva.
However, reading has always felt a somewhat selfish pursuit to me – one that encourages introspection and evolution but is ultimately limited to the individual. So, for this World Book Day, I’d like to focus on how reading has the potential to help entire communities thrive and grow.
Firstly, with the aid of GOOD, ShelterBox launched the first charity subscription book club late last year. Focusing on literature from areas where the charity’s activities are focused, the subscription fees have helped ShelterBox continue to provide emergency aid for those in need. GOOD helped create an online community for these subscribers, a platform where they can discuss chapters, dissect characters and converse with the authors.
ShelterBox Book Club has allowed life-long learners to explore entire societies and situations vastly different from their own. It has allowed subscribers to vote on what should be included in their reading list and given them the opportunity to analyse literature, encouraging a passion for reading. Most importantly, ShelterBox Book Club has provided a connection between subscribers and those who have lost their homes in other parts of the world. Subscribers are not just donors; they are individuals who are fully engaged and invested in ShelterBox’s advocacy.
The sign-ups for the Book Club trounced our expectations by a significant margin, highlighting the motivational allure of reading!
Moreover, in 2017, GOOD helped to create BookTrust’s Christmas campaign. By tapping into people’s love of books and their nostalgic memories of childhood reading, BookTrust found a whole new audience of supporters, their first regular givers, who believed that every child deserves the opportunity to huddle under duvet covers and lose themselves in adventures hidden within book pages.
In all our promotions, we wanted people to be immersed into the magical world of children’s stories. We used vivid illustrations and storybook tropes to evoke the ornate fairy-tale books of our past; the reaction to the campaign has been overwhelmingly positive.
Writing was originally conceived to logistically organise the temples and palaces of our ancient ancestors. However, it has become so much more than that. The act of reading widens our horizons, introduces us to different viewpoints and challenges our preconceptions; in no other medium can we slip into the life of someone else so viscerally. Through reading, we evolve and develop into more empathetic individuals. So, this World Book Day, as you see children dressed up as their favourite characters, I ask you to remember the euphoria of reading – not only will it improve your own wellbeing, but it has the potential to impact the lives of others too.