Project LIT Mac, a monthly book club, is expanding and partnering with McPherson Public Library over the upcoming school year to facilitate intergenerational discussions of themes in young adult literature.
Erica Shook, who teaches English at McPherson High School and McPherson College, said there are Project LIT chapters across the United States. The program was started by and English teacher in Tennessee.
"Several years ago, he and his students read an article about book deserts," Shook explained.
Finding area residents had more access to liquor stores and gas stations than they did to books, the teacher and his students organized a book drive. They successfully gathered thousands of books, but noticed the donations lacked both quality and diversity.
"They started looking at more contemporary, young adult and middle-grade literature," Shook said.
With the curated titles, Project LIT members invited the public to join them in reading and discussing the books.
Shook started the McPherson chapter of Project LIT last year for her dual-enrolled students, who were able to choose what books they wanted to read from a larger list. She then hosted meetings where they could share their thoughts about the stories.
"It was fantastic," Shook said. "We had a really great response."
With Project LIT Mac's success, Shook decided to expand the program by partnering with McPherson Public Library to hold monthly book discussions.
"We wanted to provide a chance for the whole community to be in the book club," Shook said. "The entire community, people of all ages and walks of life, are welcome to read the selection each month and join my students to discuss them."
The books have themes that address social issues of racism, poverty and sexuality.
"We are trying to build literacy and community relationships by having multigenerational conversations about topics affecting youth today," Shook said.
Readers can find the titles for each month by checking local bookstores like Twice Told Tales and The Bookshelf, along with requesting them at their local library. Parents may want to search for a synopsis of the book to see if it is appropriate for younger children.
"Our goal is not only to promote literacy," Shook said, "but also to teach our students and adults how to have civil conversations about tough topics."
Below is a list of the books that will be discussed at the meetings, held at the McPherson Public Library, 214 W. Marlin St.
"Just Mercy" by Bryan Stephenson at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17
"The Benefits of Being an Octopus" by Ann Braden at 6 p.m. Oct. 22
"Internment" by Samira Ahmed at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19
"They Both Die at the End" by Adam Silvera at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17
"A Very Large Expanse of Sea" by Taheren Mafi at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21, 2020,
"Scythe" by Neal Shusterman at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 2020,
"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Sáenz at 6:30 p.m. March 24, 2020
"With the Fire on High" by Elizabeth Acevedo at 6:30 p.m. April 21, 2020
For more information about Project LIT Mac, visit its Twitter or Facebook page.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.