Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler

Comedian Amy Poehler might seem an odd choice as honorary chairperson of World Book Night -- previous chairs were authors Ann Patchett, James Patterson, and Anna Quindlen -- but World Book Night's executive director says it's "a happy, happy event."

"This news is the icing, cherry and candles on the year three WBN cake," Carl Lennertz said in a prepared statement. "We've already announced a seven-author New York Public Library launch event, our highest percentage of free books going to teachers and students in underfunded schools, and a record number of participating librarians and booksellers, and Amy Poehler joining our cause is a happy, happy event. On behalf of our 25,000 volunteer givers and 500,000 book recipients this coming April 23, we say thank you."

Poehler is best known as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" and as a star of the long-running comedy series "Parks and Recreation." But she says (in that same statement!) that she has always been a reader. "I grew up loving books," she said. "In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. I'm thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read."

World Book Night is an annual spring ritual, now in its third year, during which 25,000 volunteers across the United States hand out free books at random. This year's list of books includes several Minnesota authors, including Garrison Keillor and Peter Geye. Other authors--Eleanor Brown (a graduate of Macalester College) and Cheryl Strayed (a graduate of the University of Minnesota)--have Minnesota ties.

World Book Night began four years ago in Ireland and Great Britain and spread to Germany and the United States the following year. To apply as a volunteer giver of books next year (this year's givers are already set), sign up for the World Book Night newsletter.

And to check out what it's like to be a giver, here's last year's report.

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