A brilliant blue sky served as the backdrop for the books on display in the front windows of the Chesapeake Academic Building where dozens of students gathered to peruse titles and take home their favorites.

The gathering was in honor of World Book Day, held around the globe on April 23. The annual event celebrates reading, authors, illustrators and all published works.

“Our goal is to foster literacy in this age of tablets and texting,” said Mike Blankenship, professor of English and one of the event organizers. “We’re excited to see so many students here and hope to host the event annually.”

Sponsored by the English faculty at Chesapeake Campus, the celebration included book donations from World Book Day and from personal donations from English faculty and staff. Book givers included Rick Alley, Rianna Amolsch, Joe Antinarella, Blankenship, Deborah “Lynne” Downs, Kristen Gregory, Tom Hargrove, Karin Pryor, David Ring, Sarah Stevenson, Doug Thiele, Mike Williams, Abbie Basile, Cynthia Cadieux and Andree Catalfamo.

The buzz of excited readers filled the lobby for two hours, and hundreds of books were given to readers. “We always knew that we had readers here, but we are thrilled to see just how many we have,” said Thiele, professor of English and a published author.

English professor and author Alley said, “Watching people who love books meet other people who love books is exciting. We’re building a community of sorts.”

Cadieux, dean of languages, mathematics and sciences added, “I stop students when I see them reading actual books, and we talk about authors and favorite titles. We love this event, it promotes reading and that’s a priority for us.”