Friday, March 15, 2019

Our Next Community Read

Graphics designed by Kathy Sowinski
Back in May of 2017 I brainstormed up a way to have a One Book/ One School around the book Wonder. It was successful beyond our wildest imaginations. I have given several presentations about it (one set of the slides on this topic are in my "presentations" tab) and written about it HERE when I was first dreaming up the idea of Sages Read. (Side note, our mascot is the Sage. Sage = Wise Owl.)

And while that community read was amazing, it was a lot of work. We wrapped it up in December of 2017 and did not dive into another one right away. I couldn’t imagine trying to begin one again anytime soon.

Over Christmas break I was listening to a podcast as I drove to Champaign to write. In it the hosts were talking about Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Apparently they have one each year. (Learn more about their challenge HERE.) As I listened, I began to dream. Could I have my students complete the challenge before the end of the year? Then I immediately thought of our new independent bookstore - could she join in somehow? By the time I hit Starbucks to sit down and write, my mind was whirling.

It was then that I lost my mind. I mean, why think small when you could do another community reading challenge, right? Good gravy, I’m a fool.

But actually, this one, I’m pretty excited about it. We have used some of the Book Riot’s challenges from over the years, along with some we thought up, and created our own to form a list of twenty reading challenges. A friend has created a cool graphic for us to use for the challenge. We have a PDF for community members to use and check off as they read the books.

So what is the dream? That more people in town read books. According to THIS ARTICLE, the average adult in this country reads somewhere around twelve books a year, with the median being four. FOUR! I’m convinced my community is above average and hope this challenge helps them show that as readers too.

Also, I want this challenge to be something the community owns. If they want to read books for the challenge in their book clubs, great! Teachers doing activities around the challenge? Bring it on. Maybe businesses offering incentives for community members that complete the challenge? That would rock. I know the bookstore is planning on something like that. Hey, if I’m dreaming, maybe a beer at our brewery can get a literary name. What I want is the community to come together around books.

Years ago when Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp began the Nerdy Book Club blog, author C. Alexander London wrote a post for the blog. It has one of my favorite lines written anywhere, and something I believe with my whole heart.

It’s a fact: people can survive without books. People can even have wonderful, full lives without books. But they can’t long endure without community, and community is built on stories.

I am beyond excited to launch this new version of Sages Read into our community today. I cannot wait to see what the people in this town do around story. It is our lifeblood. We are built on it. Let’s do this.

Monticello friends, PDFs will be live on the school website soon.