We have all had some experience with storytelling. Whether that be sitting around the campfire telling stories that give you goosebumps or around the Thanksgiving table as your uncle tells the classic “when I was young” story. Storytelling has been an integral piece of the human experience long before books took the shelves and what they both have in common is that they bring us together.
Each one of us is different in experience, culture, and upbringing. Even in a small sense we’re different, with the news we’re given, the groups we’re apart of, and the advertisements that trickle over the pages we read. But what doesn’t change, no matter location or reader, are books.
Originated by the Washington Center for the Book, the concept for a community-wide read came about. As it sounds, this initiative aimed to unite communities through the reading and discussion of the same book. Mary McGrory, in an article with the Washington Post, said “The idea is that the city opens the same book and closes it in greater harmony.”
States, cities, local communities, and even the entire nation have engaged in One Book One Community programs. Many not only organize the distribution of the selected book as well as group discussions, but also meet the author sessions and varying lectures on the topics of the book.
On a smaller scale local book clubs and even Literature classes at schools are playing a role in facilitating unity. When reading a book and discussing it, you are forced to understand how others may interpret the novel. The ability to acknowledge other opinions as well as formulating and adapting your own are skills developed in book discussions. These skills are ones that can be used in our world to encourage inclusivity and limit discrimination and prejudice, ultimately helping to develop a true understanding of cultures other than our own.
Start your own book club, it could be with your family, your friends, or maybe even your town or city! Read more about why you should start a book club here!