The True Meaning of “Word Shakers”

WordShakersUseWordsIf you follow my posts/tweets on Facebook and Twitter at all, you’ve likely seen a lot of posts about The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, and Word Shakers (the name that my friend, Hannah, and I thought of for fans of The Book Thief.) Today marks 3 months that Word Shakers has existed. Recently, while thinking about this awesome marker in Word Shakers’ history, I came to realize something. Yes, that is the name of fans of The Book Thief, but I’ve come to believe that it means more than that. I think there are a lot of people, who have never even heard of the book, who are Word Shakers, too.


Someone who understands that words have power, and uses that power to make a difference in the world.

The main character of The Book Thief is Liesel Meminger, a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany who, even before she can read, understands the power of words. Words are the last link she has to her brother, who dies on a train while he and Liesel are on their way to be given to foster parents. Later on in the book, words are what connects Liesel to Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man who Liesel’s foster parents hide in their basement. And, when Max becomes sick for a long time, Liesel reads to him twice every day until he recovers. In the words of The Book Thief, “She gave ‘The Dream Carrier’ to Max as if words alone could nourish him.” Still later, when the bombs start falling, Liesel reads to her neighbors in the bomb shelter.

When I think of Liesel, I think of her as the first Word Shaker. She understood, very well, the power of words to change peoples lives. But she didn’t stop at understanding it herself, she passed the words along, showing other people that words have power, and that they, too, could use it to make a difference.

That is the calling that all Word Shakers take up. We must understand the power that words have, and then we must use that power to, somehow, make the world a better place for everyone. To put it a different way, I believe that the philosophy of all Word Shakers is this:


We Are Word Shakers. We use words to change the world.


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