Here’s another resolution to add to that list for the new year: Join the parishwide book club.
The Lafayette Public Library is launching the community’s first Lafayette Reads Together initiative, a parishwide book club focused on the New York Times best-seller “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park.
The book is inspired by the story of one of the “lost boys” of Sudan — a nickname given to refugees displaced by a civil war in the African nation that began in 1983 and continued for more than 20 years. An estimated 20,000 children — mostly boys — were separated from their families during the war.
Park weaves the stories of two 11-year-old Sudanese children: one a “lost boy” whose story starts in 1985 and the other a young girl whose story begins in 2008.
“It’s an inspirational story based on actual events. The story is relatable to readers of all ages,” said Amy Wander, youth services manager with the Lafayette Public Library.
The goal of the initiative is to connect people in the community of all ages and backgrounds through the shared experience of reading and talking about a common book, Wander said.
“It’s a short book — about 100 pages — and in it, you get a feel for this man’s journey as a boy and all the trials that he went through,” Wander said
As part of the program, several events were scheduled, including book discussions, a Skype chat with the author and classes on African pottery and cuisine.
Events begin in late January with screenings of the 2008 documentary “Lost Boys of Sudan.” The library also plans a photo exhibit of the Lost Boys of Sudan by photojournalist Eli Reed, who will be in Lafayette on Jan. 31 to discuss his experiences documenting the lost boys. And on Feb. 24, a Skype chat with Park, is planned. The Acadiana Center for the Arts also will feature students’ artwork based on the book during an upcoming ArtWalk.
On March 2, a reception and book discussion led by City-Parish President Joey Durel, City-Parish Council member Brandon Shelvin and Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce CEO Jason El Koubi is scheduled.
The book was selected at the request of Lafayette Parish School System school librarians, who approached public library staff about launching a community reads program, Wander said.
Through a sponsorship by Cox Communications, all public school seventh-grade students in the parish will receive a copy of the book and discuss it in their classes. The library also will provide teachers with lessons centered on the book’s themes and the history and culture of south Sudan.
A grant funded by the Junior League of Lafayette will provide copies of books to other groups or businesses who want to get involved and read the book together and create additional events centered on the book or its themes, Wander said.
“We are also hoping to bring in more community participants,” Wander said. “Businesses and groups can join this effort simply by agreeing to have members read the book, distributing books to employees or even hosting programs.”
Wander said some groups that have committed to the book are: Boys and Girls Club-Granberry unit; the Northside High and Lafayette High School library book clubs; Holy Family Catholic School middle grades; Acadiana Home School Key Club; Trinity Church Book Club; Girl Scouts; Lafayette Juvenile Detention Home; the Lafayette Public Library ArtWalk; and more local book clubs.
For more information about how to get a business or group involved in the initiative, contact Wander at firstname.lastname@example.org.