Community read programs are so much more than the experience of one book. There is definite worth in everyone sharing a single story, a unifying journey through the pages and plot and dramatic lives of characters. There is an instant connection between strangers when they see the book poking out from a bag, or the Reading Together button on their coat.
When reflecting back on this year's program, my favorite moments came from the events where I gathered with our community to discuss Orphan Train and hear the perspectives and insights of others. Getting lost in a great story that entertains and enlightens is why we love reading, but it's still a rather solitary act. Sitting with hundreds in an auditorium listening to Christina Baker Kline speak, one could feel the excitement and eagerness to discuss this story and the history behind it.
Kline told stories about people that are usually not written about in the history books--children, women, the poor, the orphaned. This is one reason why the committee felt it was so important to have events where these usually untold stories could be recorded and shared. In Gail Griffin's "Writing from the Threshold" workshop, our small group of participants were able to write about turning point moments in their lives and share. The KPL-produced documentary, Found Family, gave us unique and intimate views of three local families. “Preserving Your Family History” showed us the tools needed to coax out and record for posterity those stories that need to be shared. These are the stories that make a community, and to know them makes us stronger.
~ Marianne Swierenga, Reading Together Steering Committee
Waldo Library - Western Michigan University