Flint, MI—Community Read, a city-wide book club looking to promote dialogue around inclusion and understanding in Flint, will be at the Flint Farmers’ Market this Saturday, Sept. 25 for their annual book distribution and registration drive.
Organizers will be stationed in the atrium from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help people sign up for the read and hand out this year’s book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, for free.
“We’ve got goals and objectives walking into the read,” said Angela Hood-Beaugard, executive director of the Flint & Genesee Literacy network and one of Community Read’s organizers. “So it’s reading, but with community and with purpose.”
Community Read began in 2016. Liz Svoboda, associate librarian for the University of Michigan-Flint and another Community Read organizer, said it grew from wanting to take the university’s annual common read–that year Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”—to a wider audience.
“It’s really just to get people talking and understanding each other and to share these points of view that we have,” Svoboda said.
Community Read discussions are centered around a book chosen by community vote, but community members are encouraged to join at any point in the 7-month discussion series, with or without reading.
“It’s important to realize that you don’t have to have read the book to join the conversation,” said Hood-Beaugard.
She explained that while facilitators may use a prompt from the book, the goal of Community Read discussions is to inspire people to share their own perspectives and spark dialogue and understanding from personal response.
Both Hood-Beaugard and Svoboda said that while the chosen books and discussion topics can certainly be touchy, Community Read organizers—who are all volunteers—work very hard to foster a safe and welcoming environment for readers to share with each other.
“We plan through ‘What’s the best way to engage in this conversation?’ ‘How can we create trust and rapport so people can show up in their truth?’” said Hood-Beaugard.
Community Read’s next discussion series begins on Saturday, Oct. 2. To sign up, either visit the registration drive this weekend or Community Read’s website. Books can be picked up from Comma Bookstore after the distribution this Saturday, while supplies last.