Throughout March, literacy focused events will take place for Geneva public and parochial students and community members as part of Geneva Reads’ annual Community Read. This year’s selection, the New York Times bestseller, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, will encourage middle and high school discussions on the importance of kindness and the harmful effects of bullying. Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney will be read by elementary students.
The goal of the Community Read is to provide books and programming that emphasize the importance of reading and broaden knowledge in the community around a chosen theme.
Anne Schühle, Geneva Reads executive director, says this year’s book Wonder was selected in anticipation of the April release of the film, starring Julia Roberts, and due to the support of a teenager on the Geneva Reads’ selection committee who believed it was important to discuss the topic and show support for affected youth.
Wonder is the story of a young boy who has a facial deformity that keeps him from attending a traditional school until the fifth grade. Through multiple perspectives, Palacio tells the story of how he convinces his classmates to look past physical appearances.
The first event kicks off at Hobart and William Smith’s College Store on Friday, March 3, where a 30 percent discount will be offered on the book Wonder. Everyone who purchases the book will also be eligible for a drawing for a store gift card. With money from a Wyckoff Family Foundation grant, Geneva Reads purchased copies of Wonder for the Geneva Public Library, several middle and high school classes, and all of North Street School. Children at West Street School and St. Francis deSales-St. Stephen received the age-appropriate book Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.
A full schedule with dates and times for additional events will be available soon at Geneva Public Library, the Geneva Reads website and on the Geneva Reads’ Facebook page. The events will include Skyped talks with award-winning children’s book author Trudy Ludwig; a book discussion led by Jennifer Morris; and screenings of the influential documentary Bully. This year’s Book Fest theme, “To Have a Friend, Be a Friend,” dovetails with the Community Read. The Geneva Reads booth for the April 8 event at the Geneva Community Center will feature “Kindness Rocks” for children to paint with uplifting messages.
Community Read sponsors include the Wyckoff Family Foundation, Geneva Public Library and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.