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Encouraging Citizens to “Wake Up and Read” – Celebrating National Library Week and School Library Month with Primary Sources

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April is a very special month for libraries: The second week is National Library Week, and all of April is School Library Month.

I wondered why National Library Week was created and found out that the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers joined together in 1954 to create the National Book Committee. This committee’s goal was to encourage people to read. They also believed if more people started to read they would support and use libraries.

As I read about the history of National Library Week and School Library Month I began to think about the various posters in the Library of Congress online collections that encourage people to visit libraries or to read. The Library War Service created a number of posters to solicit books and to encourage U.S. soldiers to visit their libraries.

Banish lonely hours in camp! Help provide libraries filled with books for soldiers. 1917

No days are bookless days! Poughkeepsie asks you to do your part and part with your books for our boys . F. R. Booth, 1918.

The camp library is yours – Read to win the war. C. B. Falls, 1917

Later, during the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration created a collection of posters to encourage people to read and protect books, visit libraries, and take the opportunity to learn and gain skills and knowledge.

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town…Cleo Sara, 1940

A book mark would be better! Arlington Gregg, between 1936-1940

Curb service 10,000 current books – convenient, free, time saving. Between 1936-1940

Compare these posters to some of the early posters created for National Library Week and Book Week, celebrated in November, that support children’s books and reading.

Explore with books. Alice Provensen, 1957

For a richer, fuller life wake up and read. 1961

New horizons with Books. Marcia Brown, 1951

Ask your students to identify similarities and differences. Do they think that the posters were successful in conveying the importance of books and reading to the community? What would they do if they were creating a campaign to encourage others to use libraries?

Let us know how you and your students are celebrating libraries and the joys of reading.


  1. Nice

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