Have you heard of the ‘book fairies’? Yes, they exist and there are thousands of them across the world. The Book Fairies is a global community of book lovers with one important goal: To encourage more people to read! They drop off books anonymously in public places for people to find, read and eventually leave for someone else!
In Qatar, one expatriate lady has initiated dropping books in popular places throughout the country for people to read and pass on. Interested to meet her and become a book fairy, too? Let’s get to know Jean Bayaborda!
Find out why she aims to spread the love for reading and how she became a book fairy!
Do you know of someone who’s got an exceptional talent or is making a difference in our Qatar community? Drop us a line in the comments below and you could see them highlighted in Qommunity Voices!
Jean: I’m Jean Bayaborda and I’ve been in Qatar for almost 11yrs now. I’m from the Philippines and a licensed physical therapist. I pursued the profession because that’s what my father wanted for me. I worked as a PT here in Qatar for several years. I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by books. So when I got the opportunity to work in a library I just grabbed it.
Jean: The Book Fairies is a community of book lovers who hide books around the world, for people to find, read and then leave for the next person, adding a little bit of magic to the lives of people. It was launched in London in 2017 by Cordelia Oxley, the Book Fairy in Chief.
Jean: I first heard about the Book Fairies through Emma Watson's Instagram account during International Women's Day 2017. She said: “The book fairies around the world will start hiding feminist books to mark #IWD”. She tagged Book Fairies' IG account. I checked out the website, ordered stickers, and started leaving books around Doha. Cordelia sent me an email asking if I wished to become an official book fairy and manage a Book Fairy Qatar account, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jean: It’s simple! Anyone can be a book fairy! You just need to order the stickers from the website www.ibelieveinbookfairies.com which costs £2 or QR10, with free shipping. Once you receive them, place a sticker on your book, then hide it for others to discover. Arabic stickers are also available.
Jean: I’m always interested in anything that has got to do with books, and the fact that I am sharing this passion with other people makes it even more special. My favorite things in the world are books and my dog. I have a small dog named LC who comes with me on book-drops.
Jean: It's one of the best things that ever happened to me! Besides the wonderful feeling I'm getting whenever someone finds a book that I've hidden, the best thing about becoming a book fairy is I got to meet readers around the world, who along the way became my friends and my second family.
It’s a great feeling to read messages from people who were thankful for finding a book from a book fairy. Some of them would say they’ve discovered a different genre of book, or that they’ve learned about a great independent author. The most heartwarming part is when they would say that reading the book they’ve found from a book fairy somehow eased the pain of difficult times. It's refreshing to have this element of happiness and fun in the process of 'book-fairying'.
Jean: I am not sure about the exact number, most Qatar book fairies want to be anonymous, but I'm so proud to say that I have a pretty great number of fairy wings that have been helping me since I started. I have met a lot of readers and 'bookstagram' bloggers here in Qatar and most of them have been helping me drop books around Qatar.
Jean: Due to the pandemic, we have been on a hiatus. I’ve been receiving messages asking me for a certain book and if I happen to have them, I especially go and drop the books to them. But since we are getting 'back to normal', book fairies in Qatar are starting to drop books again. I had started book-dropping since last Eid holiday.
Jean: Wherever it will be spotted easily. A book fairy must leave the book without being seen, but the book should be visible enough for the next person to spot it. The books can be hidden anywhere: on a chair, under a tree, inside a cafe. I always make sure I have books with me whenever I leave home. So far, I've left books in almost all malls in Qatar and have left a book or two in most of the popular tourist spots in Doha. The books can be identified by a Book Fairy sticker and ribbon that indicates that it's a gift to be picked up.
Jean: We want to reach areas of the world where our Book Fairy magic can make a real difference to children and adults alike but I especially encourage reading among children as I believe that it not only enhances a child's vocabulary but it also helps children absorb knowledge.
Reading exposes children to different words or phrases that they may not hear otherwise in their day-to-day lives. The more words they know, the better it would be for them to communicate well with others. It also teaches children to be creative. Most of all, it enhances their imaginative power, and this is one of the most amazing things you experience when you're reading.
My topmost book recommendations for young readers are Wonder by RJ Palacio and Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. My most favorite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I’ve been reviewing books that you can find on my bookstagram account shhhh_jeanisreading.
Image credit: Jean Bayaborda
Do you want to be a book fairy? What is the first book you plan to drop soon? Let us know in the comments below, and please do share this article — it keeps us going!
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