Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Walking in the Shoes of Others through Literature: The Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year

"If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." That's Atticus Finch, talking to his young daughter, Scout, at the beginning of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

I love that quote. We live in a world in which people are quick to pass judgment on others, especially on people who are different. But through literature we can better understand others as well as ourselves: reading allows us to walk in the shoes of others and empathize with people whose lives and experiences differ greatly from our own.

For five years now, the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program has allowed readers to walk in the shoes of others including a teenager attempting to enter the United States illegally (Enrique’s Journey) and an Afghan boy who flees Afghanistan with his father in the 1970s but remains haunted by his friendship with the son of his father’s servant (The Kite Runner). Both books are past selections of the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program, a community reading program founded in 2004 to foster cultural understanding in the northwest suburbs through literature, book discussions and other programs. Like several other libraries and schools in the area, The Des Plaines Public Library is pleased to present several Suburban Mosaic programs, all of which occur in November, so there's still time to register!

Unlike other community reading programs, Suburban Mosaic selects five books, each at a different reading level, so community members of all ages can participate. The adult selection this year is Digging to America by Anne Tyler, which illuminates the experiences and friendship of two couples, one of which is Iranian-American. The library will host a discussion of Digging to America on Thursday, November 13th at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, November 15th at 1 p.m. is a teen book discussion for 7th through 12th graders on American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. This graphic novel, a National Book Award finalist, presents three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese-Americans trying to participate in popular culture.

We're also excited to present the animated film Persepolis on Sunday, November 16th at 2 p.m., which will be followed by a discussion. Based on the Suburban Mosaic book selection of the same name, Persepolis is the story of a precocious and outspoken young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The film won a Jury Prize and was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Do you have a young person in your life between 3rd and 5th grade? Register him or her for Story Explorers on Thursday, November 13th at 4 p.m., which will include the Suburban Mosaic selection The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin. If your young person is between kindergarten and 2nd grade, register your young person for Stories and More on Thursday, November 20th at 4 p.m. Stories and More will include the Mosaic selection The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson.

You can register for any of these events at: http://calendar.dppl.org/evanced/lib/eventcalendar.asp

For more information about Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year, go to: http://www.suburbanmosaicbooks.org

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