Victory Book Day
Victory Book Day was part of the campaign that was jointly sponsored by the American Library Association, the U.S.O., and the Red Cross to send books to troops who were serving overseas during WWII. The Neosho Daily News (April 15, 1942, p. 1) describes the process for donating materials in the following manner: "books will be picked up by bread and milk companies, department stores, legitimate theaters, public utilities, bus lines, grocery stores, storage warehouses and police and fire departments and turned over to community libraries for sorting, classification and distribution." This process of collecting books for troops eventually led to the creation of Armed Services Editions, which were paper back books that soldiers could easily carry with them. These kinds of books were widely popular with the troops, and some of the most common titles are listed below. Check one out to see the kinds of books soldiers were reading during WWII.
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," by Betty Smith
A young girl in a shabby neighborhood lives with dreams in an innocent time before the war.
"The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Newly rich Jay Gatsby tries to recapture the past and win back Daisy Buchanan, his former love, despite the fact she has married.
"The Big Rock Candy Mountain," by Wallace Stegner
Bo Mason and his family move from place to place as he endlessly searches for his fortune from 1906 to 1942.
"Tortilla Flat," by John Steinbeck
In the shabby district called Tortilla Flat above Monterey, California lives a gang whose exploits compare to those of King Arthur's knights.
"Oliver Twist," by Charles Dickens
Born in a workhouse, Oliver Twist, an orphan, walks to London where he gets involved with Fagin and his gang of young thieves.
"The Island of Doctor Moreau," by H.G. Wells
The sole survivor of a shipwreck, Edward Prendick, a young naturalist, finds himself stranded on a remote Pacific island run by the sinister Dr. Moreau, a mad scientist intent on creating a strain of beast men.
"Kim," by Rudyard Kipling
A vivid, beguiling coming of age story chronicling the quest of an adolescent boy and an old ascetic priest, Kim is Kipling's masterpiece.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Mark Twain
Rather than be 'sivilized' by the Widow Douglas, Huckleberry Finn -- the grubby but good-natured son of a local drunk -- sets off with Jim, an escaped slave, to find freedom on the Mississippi river.
Resources for Exploring this Topic Further
"When Books Went to War," by Molly Guptill
Chronicles the joint effort of the U.S. government, the publishing industry, and the nation's librarians to boost troop morale during World War II by shipping more than one hundred million books to the front lines for soldiers to read during what little downtime they had.
Books in Action: The Armed Services Editions, by Erin Allen
- An article in the Library of Congress Magazine about the Armed Services Editions, which includes pictures of what these paperback books looked like.
Books in Action: The Armed Services Editions, edited by John Y. Coyle
- A collection of essays from a symposium on the Armed Services Editions held at the Library of Congress. This resource also contains a list of all Armed Services Editions in the appendix.
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