Community Read: transforming lives one book at a time

With this year’s Community Read selections, the Library intended to bring the community together through discussions, events and programs featuring the three chosen titles. The goal is a community that reads together, is a community that grows together.

At the Independence Regional Library’s Lunch and Munch book club, the contemporary fiction book club meets the first Wednesday of each month, and participants bring their own lunch, snack and opinions.

During their March monthly meeting, the book club’s chosen book was The Hate u Give by Angie Thomas, the main title for Community Read 2019. For the first time with the book club, the teen and adult services department coordinated the inclusion of the teen-aged patrons to attend and participate, timely for those CMS students who had only a half-day of classes that day.

That month’s meeting turned out to be the largest, most diverse and most energetic group the Lunch and Munch Book Club had ever seen. Seventeen teenagers participated along with the regular twenty members of the club. The group held a serious discussion on race, and each participant’s reflection on the book was received with respect, thoughtfulness and empathy. The discussions, from a diverse group of participants, were rich in perspectives. 

Community Read provides a safe, accepting and caring environment where participants can come together and share stories while breaking down barriers. The Lunch and Munch book club leader, Gay Loesch has been with the book club since its inception in 2014. After the March meeting Gay said, “I consider this the most successful Community Read ever. This intermingling of races and generations touched me deeply. All attendees are to be commended for their open and caring attitude. Together we made a step forward to better mutual understanding. And, together, we bridged the racial and generation gap toward a more peaceful and just world.”

During Community Read 2019, this story is an excellent reminder of the importance of sharing thoughts and keeping an open mind to build a stronger community. While there are different perspectives, common ground can always be found.