One Book, One Minnesota aims to bring readers together

One Book, One Minnesota is a new statewide book club that aims to bring Minnesotans together during the coronavirus pandemic. Readers of all ages are invited to read a common title, then come together virtually to reflect and discuss the book.

This program is presented in partnership with the State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education.

“Libraries are essential for connection, and through One Book, One Minnesota, libraries across the state — in partnership with local schools — will connect their communities through stories,” said Jen Nelson, director of State Library Services, in a press release. “Our goal is to bring Minnesotans closer together during this time of distance and adversity.”

The inaugural title for the program is “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Minnesota author Kate DiCamillo.

In May, Minnesotans are encouraged to read this book, access reading guides and virtual book club discussions. A statewide virtual discussion will be held with the author at 1p.m. May 20. Information on the platform and registration is forthcoming.

According to the program, “Because of Winn-Dixie” is a classic tale following the story of ten-year-old India Opal Buloni who, one summer day, goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries and instead comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog, and this is where the story really begins.

“Because of Winn-Dixie” is a winner of a Newbery Honor distinction, the Josette Frank Award, and the Mark Twain Award.

“Because of Winn-Dixie” is celebrating its 20th anniversary of publication. It was selected for its broad appeal. “Because of Winn-Dixie” is a common part of fourth grade curriculum but draws readers from all age groups.

Free, digital copies of the book can be accessed through Ebooks Minnesota at library.biblioboard.com. Ebooks Minnesota is an online ebook collection covering a wide variety of subjects for all reading levels. It features content from independent publishers throughout the state. It is a joint project of Minitex and the Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services. The collection was made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“I think the program is pretty cool and I hope it becomes an ongoing activity in our state,” said Jim Weikum, Executive Director of the Arrowhead Library Service, over email.

Although some area libraries are closed, those being staffed encourage participation in One Book, One Minnesota.

“Hoyt Lakes is reading a chapter a day of Winn-Dixie and posting it on our Facebook page,” said Sue Sowers, head librarian for Hoyt Lakes, over email Wednesday. “We have encouraged our readers to check out the free ebook copy and read.”

Videos of each chapter being read aloud are posted daily on their Facebook page. Although Sowers is the most frequent, the readers change and include library staff and area residents.

Sowers added that her library is starting curbside pick up for Hoyt Lakes residence only. Call the library to make an appointment at 225-2412. She has also been planning the summer reading program, for those 17 and under, which will run June 1-31. It will utilize curbside pickup and online programming.

The Aurora Public Library is also offering curbside pick up and book club participation on Facebook. It is also encouraging program participation through their Facebook page.

Aurora head librarian Paula Chapman said over email that the book’s one of the first four chapters are being posted on Monday and left up for one week. Readers will rotate including library staff and city volunteers. “We are posting some discussion questions with them,” Chapman said, encouraging virtual discussion.

One Book, One Minnesota is made possible in part by the State of Minnesota through a grant to the Minnesota Center for the Book through the Minnesota Department of Education. More information and featured content can be accessed at https://thefriends.org/minnesota-center-for-the-book/one-book-one-minnesota/.

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