The Jefferson County Library Cooperative has granted my wish.
Nope, not to waive my overdue book fees (yes, I get them, too). The JCLC has organized a community read. The Big Read will encourage adults and young adults throughout the Birmingham area to read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird.
I couldn’t have planned it better myself. This book offers a wonderful opportunity for all of us – regardless of race or socio-economic background or whatever – to come together and share something worthwhile.
I’ll be writing more about this in the March issue of Portico magazine, and many of the libraries will kick off The Big Read on January 14. Go to The Big Read Web site at www.jclc.org/onebook for many more details. And here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect from this One County-One Book program:
Showing of To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie, at the Alabama Theater, Thursday April 11. Tickets ($4) will be distributed through JCLC libraries. I believe the movie will have Spanish sub-titles; a great way to be inclusive.
An Evening with Scout (Mary Badham)
Mary Badham will speak about her experience playing Scout in the movie—including her lasting friendship with Gregory Peck—and how this has affected her life. Hoover Library will host this event and a reception on Friday night, April 11, 2008.
Alabama Bound (the fantastic annual book and author event sponsored by Birmingham Public Library) will present authors who have written books focused on To kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee. The theme of this day will be: “How To Kill a Mockingbird Changed My Life.” The day-long event will feature:
Wayne Flynt (moderator)
Sandy Jaffe (producer of documentary film Our Mockingbird)
Chris Mettress (Samford scholar who has written a paper questioning Atticus’s heroism.)
Mary Badham (actress who played “Scout” in To Kill a Mockingbird)
Storyteller Katherine Tucker Wyndham (and other storytellers who experienced the thirties in Alabama)
Food and musical entertainment with a 1930s theme
Readings by student winners of the One county-One Book Spoken Word Contest
• Bus Trip to Monroeville—The JCLC will sponsor four overnight bus trips to Monroeville for a walking tour and a viewing of the play. To Kill a Mockingbird is performed there each year in May. The theme of the trips will be “Justice” and there will be stops on the trip at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery and Selma’s Voting Rights Museum.
• Read it Forward—1,500 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird will be distributed in public places across the county. People will pick up a free copy of the book and will be encouraged to read it, go to the Web site and make comments on the book and what it means to them, and then pass the book on to another reader (or simply leave it in another public place; this is so cool). This part of the project is based on a program for teens that Birmingham Public Library developed and has successfully produced for the past couple of years.
Book groups, book group Web site—Local book groups will be encouraged to choose this book to read and discuss in April. The JCLC is developing a Web site for these groups to register and make comments.
I cannot begin to say how excited I am about this series of events. The Big Read has enormous potential to get all of us on the same page-- in as many ways as we an imagine.