Now I have a better fix on what they’ve been doing here.
The community of Appleton, WI has set the gold standard for a “one book, one community” program. As I learn more and more about it, I am absolutely flabbergasted. They took SPEAK and decided that they wanted everybody to read it. Everybody. The program was spearheaded by the library (of course!). They got the Mayor on board, the police department, the schools, the education foundation. Book clubs read the book. Senior citizens in nursing homes read the book. Countless teens and parents read it. People talked about it in church groups. In car pools. Over coffee. Tee-shirts and lawn signs (lawn signs!) were made promoting the project. Everyone wore buttons. There was a billboard. Strangers talked to each other about it in grocery stores and in lines at the bank.
Is this just about the coolest thing that has happened to me? Yep, you betcha.
But this is way, way, way larger than SPEAK. To me, the real significance of all of this is that in America, in 2005, a Mid-Western community came together – all ages, all facets of society – to talk about a contemporary YA story. I think this is so, so, so amazing.
*pauses for stunned contemplation*
My role here is a minor one, but I’m having a blast. Visited Einstein Middle School this morning
and Appleton East High School this afternoon. These are random East students, dressed sort of… I wasn’t quite sure what they were dressed as… but they looked good. All the kids there were fun.
Tomorrow is set up the same way: Little Chute and Madison Middle Schools in the day, another community presentation at the Appleton Public Library at 7pm.
*goes back to Awe of Appleton*
Just imagine what the world would be like if people in all communities talked about books all the time….