Book to Action Toolkit

Last Updated by California Center for the Book: 05/22/2020

Welcome! California Center for the Book is here to help you succeed on your Book to Action journey. We hope that this will be an exciting and rewarding professional opportunity for you and your community partner to focus on engaging adults and intergenerational groups. Let’s create dynamic, action-oriented programming and share what we learn.

Book to Action History

In 2011, the Hayward Public Library, under the guidance of Sally Thomas, launched the first Book to Action program in the state of California. In 2012, ten California libraries received small LSTA grants to implement their own Book to Action programs.  In 2013, the California Center for the Book began administering the program on behalf of the State Library. Book to Action tied in closely to California State Library’s commitment to bolstering statewide volunteerism efforts, as seen in its initiative Get Involved: Powered by Your Library. In 2015, Hayward Book to Action became a collaborative effort between the Hayward Public Library and CSU East Bay. In 2017, Sally Thomas joined the California Center for the Book Advisory Council. Check out the 21st Century Librarian video for an inspiring 2017 update on the evolution of Book to Action at Hayward Public Library.  The Book to Action model has also been replicated in both South Carolina and North Carolina.

Book to Action Founding Library Video
To learn more about the first Book to Action program in California, watch From Book to Action: One Library’s Story (also below) a 4-minute video about the 2011 Book to Action series at Hayward Public Library based on Novella Carpenter’s book, Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.

IMLS and Statewide Aligned Program Goals & Outcomes

  • Outcome 2b: Californians discover and participate in learning opportunities at the library
  • Outcome 3c: Californians connect and collaborate through their library

2020 Book to Action Programs
Community Surveys & Library Report – Due August 31, 2020

UPDATE MARCH 2020: Programs, Community Surveys, Speaker Payments, and Library Reports NOW DUE August 31, 2020. Be sure to track attendance and offer community surveys at every Book to Action event in your series. 

Community Surveys – You may offer the community surveys either online or in printed format.  Be sure your library name is selected from the drop-down menu. Once surveys are returned, please enter them at the SurveyMonkey link below.

  1. Book to Action Community Survey – English (MS Word)
  2. Book to Action Community Survey – Spanish (MS Word)
  3. Book to Action Community Survey – English & Spanish –

Library Report – Please see the Book to Action 2020 Library Report Planning Doc for required information. Once your Book to Action series is complete, enter the Library Report online at

Book to Action Samples & Resources

“Classic” Toolkit   High-res 12MB  &  Low-res 4MB – This classic version of the toolkit had minor updates in 2016 and major updates in 2012. Some materials, logos, and information may be out of date or refer to previous incarnations of the program at the California State Library.  However, the background information and examples are worth sharing and preserving.

Book to Action Logos
There are two “classic” color Book to Action logos and one updated one-color Book to Action logo to choose from. All logos have a transparent background and are available for download below. Feel free to update the one-color logo to match your Book to Action color theme. If you select the classic color logos, be sure to use only the versions without the California State Library URL. Huge thanks to Doris Chen and Palo Alto City Library for creating the modern 2020 logo below.

Book to Action logo-redBook to Action Logo-yellow


Sample Book to Action Press Releases, Flyers, etc

Past Book to Action Programs

Learn more about past projects including the participating libraries, program coordinators, titles selected, themes explored, and community partners.

Be sure to check out our Book to Action YouTube Playlist!

Support Statement for Promotions

See the California Center for the Book Promotions page for the current CCFB logo. Please include the following statement with links embedded, when appropriate, in your promotions. Available below in English and Spanish. Tiny font okay.

California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

El Centro de California para el Libro es un programa de la Asociación de Bibliotecas de California, apoyada enteramente o en parte por el Instituto de Servicios Bibliotecarios y de Museo de Estados Unidos conforme a lo dispuesto por la Ley de Servicios Bibliotecarios y Tecnología, administrada en California por la Bibliotecaria del Estado.

Sharing on Social Media

  • Follow and tag @CaliforniaCenterfortheBook on Facebook and Instagram
  • Use the hashtag #BookToAction

Steps for a Successful Book to Action Series

  1. Plan Early  Give yourself time to research and plan.  Develop a rough timeline of programs and possible activities. Stay open to input from your community partner and community. Review the Resources for Community Engagement, Partnerships, Programming & Outreach for Adults & Intergenerational Groups page. Explore #BookToAction on Instagram, our Book to Action blog posts, and our Book to Action YouTube Playlist.
  2.  Research & Assess Choose a need or issue that is relevant to your community, addressed in the book you choose, and relates to a community service project or civic engagement activity.  Research the nonprofit and government organizations and volunteer networks that are active in your community for inspiration.  Consider forming a small Book to Action advisory committee of staff members and community members who can advise on potential titles, projects, and community partners.
  3. Get Input & Choose a Community Partner Be clear about roles and expectations, so all parties involved understand the terms of the collaboration. Consider putting the basic in writing. Be sure your community partner is involved in designing an engaging series of events and a community service project or civic engagement activity.
  4. Choose an Engaging Book (see the list at the end of this toolkit) An ideal book will engage and educate your community about an important social issue, have a strong tie-in to your community partner, and be easily linked to a community service project or civic engagement activity.
  5. Invite the Author or Speaker If possible, see if you can get the author to speak. You might need to make arrangements through their representative, publisher, or speakers’ bureau. If an author’s fees are too high, s/he is unavailable, or you feel that another speaker might have a stronger draw in your community, work with your community partner to form a panel or find a speaker. You might want to draw up an agreement with your speaker or author that covers: fees, date, time, location, duration, etc. Be sure to outline your expectations and include whether you want the author or speaker to make a presentation, read from the book, answer audience questions, moderate a panel, sign books, etc. Note: California Center for the Book/CLA pays ONE entity directly for speaker/author fees. This can be an author, speaker, moderator, or nonprofit, and may or may not be a community partner.
  6. Design a Community Service or Civic Engagement Activity (see the list at the end of this toolkit) Embrace your role as a connector of people, ideas, and communities, and make this fact clear to the program participants. Consult your community partner about the best ways to engage volunteers.
  7. Remember to Design a Series  Book to Action should be a series of events – book discussions, author or expert talks, panel discussions, community conversations, workshops, demos, documentary screenings, and a community service project or civic engagement activity. Encourage community members to experience the full impact of the series by participating as much as possible.  It’s perfectly okay to tie into an existing library, community, statewide or national initiative. For example, if you already organize a “One Community, One Book” program, consider adding an “action” component. Some libraries prefer to condense their Book to Action events into one month and some prefer to spread them out over several months. Think of your events as a series of learning and discovery that culminates, or kicks off with, an action.
  8. Involve High Schools, Community Colleges & Universities Contact local high schools, community colleges or universities to invite students to attend the Book to Action series of events.  Be sure to reach out to the Cal State Center for Community Engagement if you have one nearby. Be sure high school students know they can get service hours for your community service or civic engagement activity (if appropriate).
  9. Involve a Local Bookstore If you are not already teaming up with a local bookstore to promote author events or other book-related programs, Book to Action provides you with a perfect opportunity to initiate a relationship.  Search the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association or the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association for help in locating the nearest independent bookseller.
  10. Encourage Diverse Opinions and Respectful Dialogue When you focus on a book that highlights a social issue, you can expect that people won’t always agree with the author or with each other.  Facilitate discussions that give people permission to respectfully disagree with each other. Set ground rules. Emphasize your role as a facilitator. Allow everyone the opportunity to speak. Get help from your community partner or a professional moderator.
  11. Market Your Program Outreach and publicity are essential to the success of your Book to Action series.  Write a press release (see examples) and send it to local media. Make follow-up calls or emails. Offer to write an article (which media outlets might publish directly) or invite media to your events. Consult your PR or Communications Officer at the library or city/county system level to assist. Distribute promo materials to local schools, cafes, cultural groups, and community centers.  Be sure to post to all relevant social networks – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Meetup, Eventbrite, NextDoor etc, in addition to your library website, calendar, and internal and external newsletters. Send California Center for the Book a co-host request for any Facebook events and we’ll gladly share. Tag your posts with #BooktoAction and @CaliforniaCenterfortheBook.  Visit the CCFB Promotions page for the California Center for the Book logo, URL note, IMLS statement, social media links, and more.
  12. Document and Share  Make sure you document your events with photographs and, if possible, videos.  Invite community members and partners to talk about their Book to Action experience and tag all social media posts with #BooktoAction and @CaliforniaCenterfortheBook.
  13. Evaluate For each Book to Action program you hold, distribute, gather and enter the data from the community surveys, record the number of participants, and plan to reflect and report those online.

Selecting a Book

The book you select for your Book to Action series should be:

  • Engaging for a general adult audience (teen appeal is great too)
  • Preferably no longer than 350 pages
  • Published within the last 3-5 years
  • Available in trade paperback
  • Be thought-provoking rather than strictly “how-to” in nature, if nonfiction
  • Note: A California author or subject expert may be easier to book for your author or speaker events but you do not need to book the author! A speaker or panel coordinated through a nonprofit or community partner may be a bigger draw.

Book to Action Books and Program Ideas

Use the selection criteria above, this list below, ideas from previous Book to Action programs, input from your community and your partner, and your professional judgment to find a great Book to Action title for your community. Feel free to use One Book, One City, and other similar community reading programs as inspiration (Example: NEA Big Read information for Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine).  Below are possible titles, program and partner ideas, and examples of past Book to Action programs.

Aging / Death & Dying

Before I Die by Candy Chang
After losing someone she loved, artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood with chalkboard paint and stenciled the sentence, “Before I die I want to _____.” Within a day of the wall’s completion, it was covered in colorful chalk dreams as neighbors stopped and reflected on their lives. Since then, more than four hundred Before I Die walls have been created by people all over the world.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending


The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner
With the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are that you may live up to a decade longer. What’s the prescription for success? National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner has traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity found in the Blue Zones: places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives.


Smoke Gets Into Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.


Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love by Melissa Fay Greene
From two-time National Book Award nominee Melissa Fay Greene comes a profound and surprising account of dogs on the front lines of rescuing both children and adults from the trenches of grief, emotional, physical, and cognitive disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Chancer: How One Good Boy Saved Another by Donnie Kanter Winokur
When a devastating diagnosis tears author Donnie Kanter Winokur’s family apart, a service dog may be their best hope to stay together.



Immigration and Refugees

Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.


Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee’s Extraordinary Journey Across Half the World  by Gulwali Passarlay
A gripping, inspiring, and eye-opening memoir of fortitude and survival—of a twelve-year-old boy’s traumatic flight from Afghanistan to the West—that puts a face to one of the most shocking and devastating humanitarian crises of our time.


The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.


Mental Health and Community

Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu
The occasion was a big birthday. And it inspired two close friends to get together in Dharamsala for a talk about something very important to them. The friends were His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The subject was joy. Both winners of the Nobel Prize, both great spiritual masters and moral leaders of our time, they are also known for being among the most infectiously happy people on the planet.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brenee Brown
True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are. Social scientist Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives–experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir by Mark Vonnegut
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his remarkable story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling as a pediatrician, and learning that willpower isn’t nearly enough.


Natural World, Sustainability & Environment

Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus
How a climate scientist and suburban father cut his climate impact down to one tenth the US average and became happier because of it. Being the Change merges science, spirituality, and practical knowledge to offer a deeply optimistic message: living without fossil fuels is not only possible, it can be better.

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. Delving into brand-new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by Richard Louv
For many of us, thinking about the future conjures up images of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: a post-apocalyptic dystopia stripped of nature. Richard Louv, author of the landmark bestseller Last Child in the Woods, urges us to change our vision of the future, suggesting that if we reconceive environmentalism and sustainability, they will evolve into a larger movement that will touch every part of society.

Social Justice

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.


March: Book One by John Lewis
March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.


Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation by John Freeman (Editor)
Thirty-six major contemporary writers examine life in a deeply divided America–including Anthony Doerr, Ann Patchett, Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, Hector Tobar, Joyce Carol Oates, Edwidge Danticat, Richard Russo, Eula Bliss, Karen Russell, and many more



Contribute to this Toolkit

We welcome your ideas and additions! Please let us know how we can improve this toolkit by contacting us.

California Center for the Book is a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.