By Rubina Kandiah
Being part of a Harry Potter club, it is safe to say that literature is a very important aspect for most of us. From Narnia to The Shire and Hogwarts to Westoros, a lot of us have visited many different worlds through the imagination of authors. However, not everyone has the privilege or opportunity to read. According to UNICEF, “Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names” and Being to Read states that 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. Their numbers are growing, which means there are even more of them now. This is a very unfortunate scenario, which is why I am glad to see the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) make their Accio Books campaign an annual event and that our chapter – The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. – takes part in it every year with a lot of passion.
Every year, we have been having continuously successful Accio Books campaigns. This year was our third campaign with the HPA (the HPA itself was on its 8th annual campaign), and we collected a total of 7,276 books – surpassing our goal of 5,000 books and collecting more than twice what we collected last year (3,226books)! Our first year of campaigning, we had a total of 300 books so we have certainly come an immensely long way from the beginning! We came in second place worldwide for the number of books collected (out of 250+ chapters), and with the winning chapter collecting over 38,000 books, I’d say we did a rather impressive job this year! Way to go S.P.E.W.! We also came in third place worldwide for the total number of points; points were earned by hosting events or by doing different advocacy actions like emailing, writing letters to or calling representatives to request additional funding for libraries.
The focus this year was on diverse books – main characters being people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. – and we strived to collect as many of these as possible. The HPA chose to donate all of the books this year to Good Shepherd School in Masaka, Uganda, teaming up with a number of other organizations including Books for Africa, the Literate Earth Project, and the American Library Association. On top of that, our chapter, S.P.E.W., chose a local charter school to donate our books to – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. With the high number of books that we collected, we were able to donate to all seven of their different campuses throughout Central Florida. On top of that, employees at Universal Roofing, a construction company, heard about what we were doing and offered to build libraries for the children at their Pine Hills campus. The people in charge at UCP were very impressed with our book campaign success this year and were very grateful to us for choosing them! Several thanks to S.P.E.W. prefect, Bryanna Plantier, for suggesting the school.
With the rising success we’ve been having, I can only assume that we will aim even higher for next year’s campaign. It would be nice to come in 1st place! But more importantly, I am very proud to be a part of a club that takes such pride in spreading and encouraging literacy. May the Harry Potter fandom continue to lower the growing number of illiteracy around the world, book by book.