One Book Steamboat: The time for antiracist reading and action is now
For Bud Werner Memorial Library
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Every year, Bud Werner Memorial Library presents a community read in Steamboat Springs. We call it One Book Steamboat. The library’s mission is to provoke communitywide conversation stoked by literature. The book can be contemporary or classic, and it is always embellished by library events to add context and deeper enrichment.
During the past decade One Book Steamboat has delved into identity issues with Dani Shapiro and “Inheritance,” America’s legacy of Native American mistreatment with “Ramona,” human casualties of the Vietnam War with “The Things They Carried,” the tolls of resource extraction with Alexandra Fuller and “The Legend of Colton H. Bryant,” poverty with “The Grapes of Wrath,” and racism with “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
For 2020, the library presents a cross-generational reading and conversation about the antiracist works of National Book Award-winning author, historian and Center for Antiracism Research founding director Ibram X. Kendi.
Designed for everyone to engage in challenging racism, the library has chosen three of Kendi’s New York Times bestselling books accessible to readers of every age. For adults, we’ve selected “How to Be an Antiracist.” For young adults and families reading together, we recommend “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” which was co-written by award-winning author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds. And for toddlers reading with their caregivers, dive in to Kendi’s beautifully illustrated board book, “Antiracist Baby.”
Kicking off One Book in early August provides an ideal lead-in to “Indivisible,” Steamboat Pilot & Today’s six-week fall reporting series. The library is proud to be collaborating with our local newspaper’s effort to bring issues of diversity, equality and inclusivity to the forefront of conversation and active change in the Yampa Valley.
All of Kendi’s books are readily available to check out for free with your library card as digital, audio and hard copy editions. You can also purchase them locally at Steamboat’s independent bookstore, Off the Beaten Path.
Start by forming your learning pod. Together, you can organize meaningful book conversations while gathering virtually on Zoom, outdoors in parks, on backyard porches, over phone lines or at home with roommates and family.
And because systemic change requires intense focus within all manner of organizations, the library urges nonprofits, schools and businesses to spearhead reading groups surrounding their particular area of interest or expertise — antiracism and housing, antiracism in education, antiracism in the arts, antiracism in the workplace, antiracism in health care, antiracism in immigration, antiracism in outdoor recreation, antiracism in feminism, antiracism in policing.
However your group decides to gather, the library is here to support your conversations with logistics, contextual resources, ground rules for civil conversation and detailed reading guides. The guides are live now on the One Book Steamboat website.
During the coming months, participate in the library’s virtual One Book events, too. Next week’s opening One Book Watch Party features an outstanding recorded conversation between Kendi and The Atlantic staff writer Jemele Hill. It provides a solid introduction on “How to Be an Antiracist.”
Reading and discussion are only a start — planting the roots of a grassroots transformation. In order to flourish, these seeds take watering and nurturing, mutual respect, trial, error, action and a lifetime commitment to learning. Combating racism is a long-haul effort that starts with education. Once we learn our history, we realize it took a long time to get here.
Racism won’t unravel overnight. Ultimately, we all benefit from learning this human history because racism affects everyone. As we gather with people known and unknown to us, the library encourages honest conversations where our community can evolve, dig in and be inspired to create a more equitable, antiracist society.
Earmark the robust One Book Steamboat resource pages at steamboatlibrary.org/events/one-book-steamboat, and join us in this essential community read.
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