When was the last time you read a really good book? It’s been a while for me, personally. It can be hard to feel motivated to read a work of fiction when we’re bombarded with the real news, the fake news, lengthy discussions on social media, debates between friends or family members, tweets (both hysterical and horrifying), and so much more. At a certain point, we just collapse underneath it all. But here’s the thing -- in times like this, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is reach for a piece of literature. At a time in which our culture is extremely divided, One Book, One New York has the potential to bring diverse groups of people together through the process of shared reading.
No offense to informational and persuasive writing, but the act of reading narratives allows us all to peek into the lived experiences of others, to see the world from new perspectives, and to locate ourselves as readers in the landscape of the story. Letting the story unfold for us as we finger through the pages of the book, or slide our fingers across the screen, we get to live another’s life, walk a mile in their shoes. And often times, when reading a text that really speaks to us, our first instinct is to want to talk about it with others. Whether it’s small talk among friends, posts in social media, or in more formalized settings like book clubs or courses -- we want to talk about what we’ve read, and what we make of it, and hear what others have to say as well. It is this exchange between the readers and the text that creates a dynamic and (sometimes) transformative experience. When we read as a community, we forge new bonds where once there were boundaries. When we read as a community, we create connections, and increase our capacity for compassion and empathy.
This is why we are so thrilled to participate in the One Book, One New York project, which was launched by the New York City Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment earlier this year. Throughout the month of February, New Yorkers voted on five different texts, and chose Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah as this year's selection. Our goal is to support all of NYC’s readers to engage with the book, and with each other, in ways that bring the book to life. Throughout the three-month reading experience, CPET will be providing a wide range of resources that will be available to all readers. Beginning with our Invitations, readers will be invited to Connect, Question, Contemplate, and Create alongside the text. These Invitations will be shared on our website, as well as through social media under the hashtag #OneBookNY. In addition to the invitations, we’ll be providing resources to support shared reading with book club facilitator guides, promising practices for great book clubs, and even a special podcast series where we talk about the book!
At our core, CPET is a professional development organization, so we have to have something special for all of our teachers! Teachers who want to bring the One Book, One New York selection into their classroom will have all the support they need with CPET’s original, Common Core-Aligned Unit Plan and a free professional development workshop for teachers who sign up.
Stay tuned for more resources, opportunities, and events! Now stop reading this and go get your copy of the book!!!
-- Roberta Kang, Initiative Director