(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) It was the rallying cry on social media for activism after nationwide protest surrounding several police shootings and now it’s Arlington Public Library’s theme for Arlington Reads 2015: the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
The community-wide reading initiative focuses on race, according to a library press release, in two books: “Men We Reaped,” a memoir surrounding the deaths of five young black men close to author Jesmyn Ward, and “Americanah,” a novel about African emigrants struggling with race in Western civilization by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Arlington Reads is the library’s annual attempt to bring the community together around a single topic, to encourage reading and educated discussion. This year’s theme was selected because the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was chosen as the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year in 2014 after police-related shooting deaths in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland, Ohio and elsewhere in the country.
The two authors will discuss their books — both published in 2013 to broad critical acclaim — in separate events at Arlington Central Library.
Ward, a professor at Tulane University, will speak at Central Library on Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. Adichie — known also for her TED Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” and her speaking part on Beyoncé’s song, Flawless — will speak at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 7. Admission to the events are free.
Images via Arlington Public Library
Arlington Two-Year-Old Has ‘Read’ 1,000+ Books — A two-year-old Arlington girl has read — or, at least, had her parents read — 1,000 books so far. The girl is the poster child for Arlington Public Library’s new “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, which encourages parents to help children build language skills by reading what amounts to about one book a day. [Washington Post]
Jose Andres Products Coming to Whole Foods — A new line of Spanish oils, vinegars, olives and “easy-to-make paella kits” from Chef Jose Andres, of Jaleo fame, will be coming to Whole Foods stores around the Washington area next month. [Washington Business Journal]
Road Closures for 9/11 Heroes Race — A number of roads in the Crystal City and Arlington Ridge areas will be closed Saturday morning for the 9/11 Heroes 5K Race. Parking restrictions will also be in place. [Arlington County]
(Updated on 8/1/13)
The Arlington Public Library summer reading program has already broken its all-time participation record with more than three weeks remaining until registration ends.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the library had 7,529 kids from preschool to high school signed up for its summer reading program, breaking last year’s record of 7,415. Registration ends for middle- and high-schoolers Aug. 20 and for elementary- and pre-schoolers Aug. 24.
“Summer reading gets more popular every year,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin. “I think it’s a snowball effect. Every year, the kids tell more friends about the program. Thanks to Harry Potter, I think kids are more interested in reading these days.”
Among the most popular titles young readers are borrowing from the library this summer are the Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth series among second- to fourth-graders, the Big Nate series with those in grades 4-6, and, among the older students, The 5th Wave and Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games series that will come out in movie form this fall.
Kids who complete the summer reading program at the library earn prizes based on their age group, including a drawstring library bag for the younger children and a notebook and pen set for the middle- and high-schoolers.
Photo via Arlington Public Library
Library May Set Summer Reading Record — Arlington Public Library is tantalizingly close to setting a new record for participation in its summer reading program. Last year a record 7,371 students participated in the program. This year the library is “just a handful away” from reaching that number. [Sun Gazette]
Road Closures for Buckingham Festival — The Arlington County Police Department will be assisting with traffic control for the Buckingham Festival this weekend. From about 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, N. Pershing Drive will be closed between N. Glebe Road and N. Thomas Street. [Arlington County Police]
Arlington Mag Taking ‘Best Of’ Votes — Arlington Magazine has started taking votes for its inaugural ‘Best of Arlington’ poll. Among the dozens of individual categories are Best Restaurant, Best Realtor, Best Dog Park and Best Cosmetic Surgeon. [Arlington Magazine]
Photo courtesy Peter Roof
The book bus was launched this summer with the goal of providing enhanced reading opportunities for students at Abingdon, where nearly 53 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. Once a week for five weeks, the bus would make stops in the community around Arlington, giving students the chance to check out books right in their neighborhood.
The bus was staffed by Abingdon teachers and the school’s principal, all of whom volunteered their time. Inside the bus were about 2,000 books donated by local businesses, nonprofit organization, a local author, and several publishers. Much of the equipment used to check out books — including barcode scanners — were also donated.
“It was almost completely subsidized, which is fabulous,” said Abingdon principal Joanne Uyeda.
Over the course of four weeks, about 200 students checked out more than 700 books, according to Abingdon literary coach Erin Watson. For the bus’ fifth week , students returned their checked-out books, picked out a free donated book to keep, and entered to win one of four Barnes & Noble Nooks. The Nooks will be given out during a school reading assembly during the first week of school.
Uyeda said the ultimate goal of the book bus is to help close the “achievement gap” between Abingdon students and students in more well-to-do neighborhoods. By bringing elementary-reading-level books to the neighborhoods, and by making the book bus stops into a fun event, Uyeda said the bus was able to encourage more Abingdon students to read over the summer.
“You can trace about 80 percent of the achievement gap to summer reading loss, because middle class kids gain a month over the summer and disenfranchised kids lose three months,” Uyeda said. “By the time they leave elementary school they’re roughly two years behind, and they don’t make that up in middle school.”
Julie Bato, a parent of an Abingdon student and a teacher at Long Branch Elementary, said the book bus brings the community together and allows students to see their teachers during the summer.
“It’s great,” she said. “I love seeing all the neighborhood kids come out. The appreciation the staff has for these kids, some of whom might not get to the library over the summer… I just think that’s priceless. They’re the reason the kids want to come. They want to see their teachers, they want to see their principal.”
One young student was so grateful to the book bus volunteers that he brought them pudding cups and spoons on the last week.
Teachers and administrators both said they hope to bring the book bus back next summer.
“We want to keep doing it every summer, if we can,” said Susanna Smith, a reading teacher at Abingdon. “It’s a lot of fun seeing the students smile when they see their teachers during the summer.”
Arlington is again on the Amazon.com list of The Top 20 Most Well-Read Cities, but this year it moved up.
Arlington was listed as #7 on the list, moving up 3 spots from last year’s #10 position. Alexandria also moved up the list from its spot at #2 last year. It has overtaken Cambridge, Mass. to become the #1 most well-read city in America.
Alexandria also has the distinction of liking spicy books. According to the press release, “Virginia is for lovers – Alexandria, Va., that is, which tops the charts in the Romance book category.”
Localities had to have at least 100,000 residents to be considered for inclusion on the list. Amazon.com compiled the data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales in both print and e-reader formats since June 1, 2011.
Here is the full list:
- Alexandria, Va.
- Cambridge, Mass.
- Berkeley, Ca.
- Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Boulder, Colo.
- Arlington, Va.
- Gainesville, Fla.
- Washington, D.C.
- Salt Lake City
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Columbia, S.C.
- Bellevue, Wash.
- St. Louis
- Richmond, Va.
Arlington has been ranked among the most “well-read cities” in the United States, according to Amazon.com.
The internet retailer compiled sales data of all book, magazine and newspaper sales since Jan. 1, 2011 — in both print and Kindle formats — to find out which areas read the most on a per capita basis. Only “cities” with a population over 100,000 were considered.
Arlington ranked #10 on the list. Next-door neighbor Alexandria ranked #2, while the District ranked #14. Alexandria also topped the list of the cities that order the most children’s books.
See the full list, after the jump.