Diversify Everyone’s Reading!!

Thanks to my cousin, Kelsee Jean Macintosh-Ellig for sharing this Great Idea!!

Kelsee invited her Facebook friends to join her in a book exchange that works like this:

“Buy your favorite book (just one) and send it to a stranger.”

She will send that stranger’s name to those who sign up via private message.

Each participant will receive roughly 36 books to keep. Or, you might encourage folx to share read books forward via Little Free Libraries; see our related Great Idea here. In fact, the whole enterprise is a bit like a mail-order Little Free Library, but with a commitment on the recipient’s end to read what they receive.

Kelsee encourages participants to share either a book they already own or order one from a favorite bookseller and have it shipped directly to its recipient.

The number of books each participant receives will be determined by the number of participants. If interest supports it, organizers might break participants into randomly selected groupings to keep the number of books received readable within a year (or whatever time-frame you choose).

A) This could be a wonderful way to build community within a congregation! And could be shared among all different age groups. You might suggest it within existing groups or use it to introduce people to folx with whom they don’t interact on a regular basis.

~Also a great form of outreach: invite the broader community to participate as a very non-threatening exchange of ideas and interests!

B) If you have a church library, your librarian might offer suggestions, facilitate acquiring books, ensure a mix of books are available for loan, etc. Also, The Ministry Lab lends resources – maybe we can help!

C) Create a ‘Reading Response Board’ in a gathering space: invite folx to leave a brief comment about books, highlighting ‘Wow!’ moments, creative responses, and/or “Now I want to learn more about…” Leaders can use this board to discover what folx are interested in learning about. Maybe some new affinity/interest groups could pop up!

D) Facilitate wonderful (even intergenerational!?!) dialogues between recipient and sender by encouraging folx to identify themselves with the book they send. Use the exchange as a way to get to know one another.

E) While diversifying reading is the ultimate goal, you might introduce themes – especially if you anticipate hosting the exchange more than once/annually/seasonally. You might start by suggesting books that are becoming ‘banned’ across the nation. See our related Great Idea here; find a few banned book lists here.

E) This is a great way to support your local bookseller. You could get them onboard with suggestions, reading excerpts from featured books, discounts for participants, bulletin recognition/gratitude, etc.

What a great way to expand horizons, invite new relationships, and develop a joy of reading as part of your congregation’s culture!