Be sure not to mistake Kitsap Regional Library’s latest reading program for a longstanding commercial literary venture.
“Month of the Book, Month of the Book!” Martha Bayley said, laughing.
While the Book-of-the-Month Club demands its monthly payment for subscribers’ regular fiction or non-fiction fix, October’s Month of the Book promotion at KRL offers edification without a cover charge.
Bayley, KRL’s collection manager, said plans had long been in the works for Month of the Book, a series of programs pinned on the theme of classic fiction – what makes a book great.
Then Washington State Libraries upped the ante in the best possible way, giving KRL a “One Book, One Community” grant to engage Kitsap readers in the common pursuit of getting to know a single work.
With its One Book funds, KRL elected to purchase more than 700 copies of the paperback edition of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird,” along with copies of the film, audio book and large type edition.
“We suddenly realized we could look at things like justice, and tie them all together,” Bayley said of the programming possibilities that evidenced themselves. “With people reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ we could have some other things going on to look at these great issues.
“And so we decided to run (the programs) concurrently. They are separate things, but they all celebrate the book, and celebrate literature, and celebrate the community sharing ideas. And we’re happy they coincided.”
Bayley herself has a particular love for “To Kill a Mockingbird.” While her family moved to Bainbridge Island in 1953, they came from the South, leaving Bayley with a sense of regional rapport.
She also connected strongly to the character of Scout, an inquisitive, motherless child coming of age in a time of great social change.
“I wanted to choose a book that would resonate with all readers. And I call this a ‘four-star read,’” she said. “This is a book that by its setting, its characters, its story, it just pulls you in.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” events around the county include book discussions, lectures, read-aloud sessions, and panels (see page 6 for a preview of “Cotton, Southern Comfort, and Jim Crow: The Culture of Harper Lee’s South” on Bainbridge this weekend).
This past Sunday, a screening of the film starring Gregory Peck drew a full house to the Historic Lynwood Theatre.
Month of the Book, with its related exploration of social justice, includes among other programs, Island Theatre’s traveling performance of “Inherit the Wind” and appearances by two nationally celebrated but locally rooted authors, novelist and poet Sherman Alexie and children’s poet laureate Jack Prelutsky.
“That was part of the fun of putting this together, was trying to come up with some authors who were appropriate for this higher bar,” Bayley said.
When the calendar flips to November, KRL will look ahead with the hope of making One Book, One Community an annual event, and meanwhile will donate the entire collection of “Mockingbird” acquisitions to schools for future use.
“It’s exciting to share discussions and have a chance for people to look at classics,” Bayley said.