Read Across the Valley: 2011 project explores PA cultural roots
What if everyone in the central Susquehanna valley region read the same book at the same time? That was the idea behind two earlier “Read Across the Valley” projects. In 2011, though, libraries in Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union counties will be taking a different approach — three books, three authors, and one theme.
The Read Across the Valley project is a cooperative effort of one academic and 12 public libraries: Beavertown Community Library, Degenstein Community Library, Herr Memorial Library, McClure Community Library, Middleburg Community Library, Milton Public Library, Montgomery House Warrior Run Area Public Library, Priestly-Forsyth Memorial Library, The Public Library for Union County, Selinsgrove Community Library, Blough-Weis Library of Susquehanna University, Thomas Beaver Free Library, and West End Library.
With the goal of exploring regional cultures, promoting reading, and building a sense of community by encouraging residents to talk about what they read, member libraries chose the theme “Living Simple, Living Plain.” They have asked Kevin Williams, editor of the “Amish Cook” series, Marta Perry, author of a new series of “Amish Suspense” books, Tamar Myers, whose books feature characters based on her religious upbringing, and Donald B. Kraybill, co-author of Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, to speak in the area during the late summer and early fall of 2011.
Williams, editor and friend of the late Elizabeth Coblentz and of her daughter Lovina Eicher, has been involved with the family since 1991 when he first began editing and promoting Coblentz’s “Amish Cook” column. In addition to the column, which is now written by Eicher and published in more than 100 newspapers, Williams has collaborated on three “Amish Cook” books. He will talk about his experiences with the Amish community on Tues., July 26, at Degenstein Community Library in Sunbury.
Perry will be the first featured Read Across the Valley author, with a presentation scheduled for Tues., Aug 16, also at Degenstein Community Library. Perry will focus on her book “Murder in Plain Sight,” published in December 2010.
Myers, author of a mystery series set in Pennsylvania that features an Amish-Mennonite sleuth, will speak on Sept. 13, at an area location to be determined. Myers will focus on her 2009 novel “The Witch Doctor’s Wife,” in which she delves into her own history as the daughter of Christian missionaries in the Belgian Congo. She also will introduce her novel “The Headhunter’s Daughter,” which will be published in December 2011.
Kraybill, who is nationally recognized for his scholarship on Anabaptist groups, is the author or editor of more than 25 books and dozens of professional articles. The 2007 non-fiction book “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy” examines the Amish understanding of forgiveness and explores how and why the Amish responded to the 2006 killing of Amish school children at Nickel Mines in Lancaster County with grace. Kraybill is scheduled to speak at Susquehanna University on Thurs., Oct. 13.
Participating libraries plan to purchase extra copies of the featured books for library card holders to borrow, and they plan to present a variety of programs for residents of all ages to support the project. A list of these events, as well as more information about Read Across the Valley as it is confirmed, will be available online at www.readacrossvalley.org.
The Read Across the Valley project began with a 2005 “One Book: The Killer Angels ” project in which five participating libraries — Selinsgrove, Milton, Montgomery House, Priestley-Forsyth, and Degenstein — promoted Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and offered a presentation by his son, author Jeff Shaara. In 2009, the Read Across the Valley project included 14 libraries and focused on New York Times best-selling author John Grogan, who wrote Marley and Me.
Although the member libraries of the Read Across the Valley project are applying for grants to help with the cost of the presentations and events, opportunities remain for sponsorship. For more information about sponsoring a speaker or a Read Across the Valley event, contact Melissa Rowse, chairperson of the Read Across the Valley committee, at 570-538-1381.