Last month, I was the MC at a fundraiser for The Children’s Book Bank. It’s a charity that gives new or “gently-used” books to children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity of owning a book for themselves. The fundraiser was called a Cheater’s Trivia Night (which sounded a bit like a board-game party for swinging couples, but hey, maybe that’s just me).
The idea was that after each round of questions, for a few bucks a pop, the competing teams had the chance to buy the answers they didn’t know. Hence: cheating…but for a good cause.
At the start of the evening (after I’d already had a couple pints) one of the organizers called me over, handed me the microphone and said, “talk for a couple minutes, then we’ll have a break, then we’ll start the quiz.” Talk for a couple minutes. Not really difficult, but I hadn’t prepared anything in particular. As sometimes happens, however, when your inhibitions are dampened by a bit of tipsiness, your brain works even better than usual. Sometimes, at least. It’s a fine line.
When I finished my spiel, Kim Beatty, who founded the Book Bank, was standing up front. She asked me, “Could I get you to write down what you just said?” At the time, I declined—I was running a quiz, after all—but now, for Kim’s benefit and for anyone else who cares, here’s a rough approximation of what I said:
I hear a lot about something called “The Silver Bullet Book.” By that I mean a single book that you can give to a kid and it’ll instantly make that kid a reader. Or, if there’s not one single book for everyone, then maybe if you just get to know a young person, you’ll be able to select just the right book for that child and presto—they’re hooked on books.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a Silver Bullet Book. Although I may like to think the ultimate Silver Bullet Book is my one, it’s not. Tons of kids hate my book! In short, the Silver Bullet Book does not exist.
All of that said, however, I do think that putting a book in a kid’s hands for the first time, giving a kid the pleasure of owning a book of their very own, a kid who’s never even held a book before—well, I think that’s as close as anybody’s ever going to get to shooting a silver bullet.