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Randolph Reads joins community reading initiatives nationwide

The concept of the entire community reading and talking about a book in common got its start in 1998, when the Seattle Public Library initiated "If All Seattle Read the Same Book," using The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks.

In the years since, the phenomenon has spread nationwide. According to the Library of Congress, by 2005 more than 350 community reading programs had taken place in all 50 states. The intent is to promote literature and reading, but titles chosen often address social issues relevant to the community.

Greensboro's every-other-year One City One Book, sponsored by the Friends of the Greensboro Public Library, began in 2002 with A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, and last year considered Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.

Forsyth County Public Library's annual On the Same Page also originated in 2002, with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and last year offered The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner. The library also has celebrated each National Poetry Month since 2004 with On the Same Poem.

Randolph Reads was initiated on 2003 by the Friends of the Randolph Public Library, with To Kill a Mockingbird. Also participating in this project were the Randolph Arts Guild, Randolph Community College, Asheboro High School, Eastern Randolph High School and Southwestern Randolph High School.

In addition to reading and discussion, Randolph Reads: To Kill a Mockingbird featured a staged reading of the play at the Sunset Theatre.

The Friends continued Randolph Reads with smaller-scale projects in 2004 and 2005, reading Clyde Edgerton's Raney and Lewis Nordan's Wolf Whistle.

In 2008, the Latino Coalition of Randolph County and the Friends of the Library launched Randolph Reads: A Home on the Field, featuring journalist Paul Cuadros's exploration of the impact of immigration on Chatham County through the story of "Los Jets," the predominately-Latino Jordan Matthews High School soccer team that Cuadros founded, advocated for and coached to the 2004 state championship.

Partners also included the Randolph County Public Library, the Asheboro City Schools, the Randolph County Schools, Randolph Community College (RCC) and the Asheboro Police Department.

Activities included a kick-off at the Sunset Theatre; book discussions at each library location; a community discussion led by Cuadros at the Sunset Theatre; campus discussion at RCC also led by Cuadros; a Latino Youth Issues Forum at RCC; a symposium on immigration issues at the Latino Coalition; a field trip to an exhibit of Latino and Latin American art at the Witherspoon Art Museum; and more. The NC Zoo joined in and used the book in a diversity training initiative.

Randolph Reads Randolph County Public Library 201 Worth Street Asheboro, NC 27203
336-318-6814 www.randolphlibrary.org

2014 Randolph County Public Library
background image adapted from "Harlem, New York" by Ilan Costica under a Creative Commons 3.0 Unported license