Saturday mornings are usually pretty quiet at Lycoming College’s Snowden Library. On Saturday, February 6th, however, groups of students convened around the fireplace to read aloud and raise money for a great cause.
This February marked the 12th Annual Lycoming College Read-In, an event that promotes basic literacy, and encourages civic and social literacy by presenting an opportunity for student groups to earn community service hours and contribute to initiatives to raise funds and awareness. The library has traditionally coordinated the event, but this year I had an idea for a theme, so I invited the student group Colleges Against Cancer to co-sponsor the event with us. They agreed, and I identified a member to serve as my primary contact and made arrangements to attend one of their meetings to explain the event to the group, as be sure they understood what co-sponsorship would entail.
As co-sponsors, Colleges Against Cancer helped me select a book to read aloud and a charity for which to raise funds. We selected John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and decided to collect money for the American Cancer Society. Colleges Against Cancer also pledged to help with advertising by posting flyers around campus, posting on social media, and by promoting the event by word-of-mouth.
Student groups sign up for a one-hour time slot, during which they read the book aloud, taking turns and passing the book around the circle. Groups are asked to make a donation of at least $15, which we collect, consolidate, and donate to the selected charity. The event has a relaxed tone, and students enjoy the opportunity to unplug and enjoy some old-fashioned fun.
This year, more than 70 students participated in the Read-In, and we raised more than $140 for the American Cancer Society. And yes, we did have to break out the tissues!
These hints and tips may help if you decide to throw your own Read-In:
- Practice reading the book aloud yourself to decide if it lends itself to this type of event.
- While not necessary, tying the book and charity together thematically adds cohesion to your event. For instance, in 2014 we read The Hunger Games and collected items for a local food bank.
- Whether you buy or borrow, it’s important to have multiple copies of the book, and to place a bookmark in each.
- Co-sponsoring helps to build in audience and increase the reach of your marketing initiatives.
- Use comfortable seating and have snacks and water on hand to create an inviting atmosphere and encourage people to relax and read a while.
Although this event occurred in an academic library, it could be equally successful in a public or school library setting. It could also be timed to coincide with another celebration, such as a birthday or holiday that’s important to your community.