Rock the Drop started in 2008 after Y.A. author Justina Chen, a founding member of Readergirlz, spent some time at her local children's hospital while researching a novel. She realized teen patients "didn't have a whole lot to comfort them" and in an effort to change that started getting extra copies of books at book signings and dropping those off at the hospital for the kids. That spurred Operation Teen Book Drop, a widespread movement to donate books to teen patients at hospitals, and from that came the on-the-streets effort, Rock the Drop, for which readers, authors, and publishing companies are encouraged to leave books—designated with "Rock the Drop" bookplates, above—around their neighborhoods and towns for readers to discover. Consider it spreading the love, the Y.A. book way. Since the inception of these two programs, more than 30,000 books have been donated to hospitals, and though it's unknown how many books have been dropped locally over the years, Y.A. author and Readergirlz blogger Melissa Walker numbers it in the thousands.
This year Walker and fellow Y.A. author Micol Ostow Harlan are leading the Rock the Drop charge, with the help of partners Figment, I Heart Daily, Soho Teen, and 826NYC. Authors including Sarah Dessen, Becca Fitzpatrick, Sarah Mlynowski, Carolyn Mackler, Maureen Johnson, and Megan McCafferty have been involved in years past; others are expected to join in Thursday. Publishers Harper Teen, Egmont, and Bloomsbury will also participate. If you're not into leaving a book out in public somewhere, you can drop books off at 826NYC, which this year is holding a book drive in lieu of the hospital donation. Figment, meanwhile, will be giving books out for people to keep and/or to drop at a table outside their Manhattan office tomorrow, and you can leave your books with them, too.
Along with inspiring readership of teen books, the best part of Rock the Drop is that anyone can participate, and "it's really anywhere anyone wants to do it." Not unexpectedly given the devoted followings of Y.A. readers and publishers there, Walker says the biggest support for the effort is in New York, L.A., Seattle, and Austin, but "we've had people say, 'Can I do this in the Philippines, can I do this anywhere?'" The answer is yes. If you have a great teen read, or several, that you want to share, Thursday's your day; if you see Y.A. books lying around, now you know what it's all about. "It's a fun, all-day thing," says Walker.