By Catharine Dishke Hondzel
One Book, One Community is a collaborative community-wide reading project between the Thompson Nicola Regional Library (TNRL) and TRU. This is the first time that TRU and the TNRL have initiated a collaborative community project, and it’s an exciting time to be using reading as a means to gather people together once again. After nearly 18 months of social distancing and disruption, I appreciate that we have an opportunity to find a new experience that moves us toward place of shared learning.
I’m fortunate to have a bit of experience with a common reading program, as I’m sure others in the community and in the university have through book clubs and shared reading groups. Since the fall of 2018 CELT has been running a small faculty book club (A Bowl a Book and a Bun) where we discussed a teaching-focussed work. Last year when we moved our book club online the book club grew to over 30 faculty members who joined us in shared discussion of Flower Darby and James Lang’s book Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes. We discussed big ideas, struggles with the pivot to online learning, and together we grounded our work in care for students and thoughtful course design. This online book club was not only very fun, it also brought people together at a time when we were all craving connection.
You may also be familiar with other big ‘one book’ programs at universities or in communities. In my previous role before coming to TRU, I had the great fortune of being able to support the Huron1Read program where every incoming student received a copy of that year’s chosen book. Within that program, faculty built selected readings into their classes, students, faculty and staff hosted discussion groups, and the whole community attended author events and faculty talks. One of my most potent memories of being a part of that initiative was as a host for Thomas King when he came to Huron to meet with Indigenous students to answer questions about his book the Truth about Stories. Hearing him talk about writing the book and answering questions from students about becoming a writer and author stands out in my memory a point of connection on such a personal work, and it added another deeper, more personal layer to his writing.
This year the book we have chosen for the One Book One Community initiative is Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians. Winner of many prizes, the book explores themes related to residential school survival, intergenerational trauma, community, the meaning of place, parenting, grief, and healing. It will capture readers in myriad ways. We think everyone will be able to relate to some of the complex experiences the main characters face while learning about the long-lasting impacts of the residential school system.
CELT is excited to be supporting TRU library and TNRL on this project, and we encourage faculty, students and staff to get involved. You can start or join a reading group, bring the book into your course, or attend an author event in the spring. More details are available on the OBOC webpage which will be updated regularly.