Books Build Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Reading

Books Build Bridges: Connecting Communities Through Reading

By: Danielle Acton, Adult Engagement Coordinator and Christy Franzman, Teen Coordinator

This fall, HEPL will introduce a new community read initiative—Books Build Bridges. HEPL serves two vibrant communities—Fishers and Noblesville. Our aim with Books Build Bridges and the two books selected (one for adult audiences, and one for teen audiences) is to build community through shared experience, to provide diverse reading opportunities, and to engage our communities with noted authors. When library staff began planning for this initiative in late 2019, we never imagined how much the world would change before we reached the launch of this community read. Author visits that were initially planned as large in-person events will be held virtually via Zoom to ensure the safety of all. However, through technology we can still come together to discuss important social issues that resonate within our communities.

The featured novels for the inaugural Books Build Bridges Community Read are An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Dear Martin by Nic Stone.

To participate in Books Build Bridges, you can pick up a free copy of the featured novels (yours to keep, available while supplies last) at the Noblesville or the Fishers library beginning September 1. Or, borrow a copy digitally through OverDrive/Libby or Hoopla, or from our bookshelves!


An American Marriage

An Oprah’s Book Club Selection, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was named a notable book by The New York Times and The Washington Post and was included on former President Obama’s Best of 2018 roundup, in addition to being awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Aspen Words Prize, and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction. It has been published in over 20 countries, with over a million copies in print around the world. In this “moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African American couple” (Barack Obama, on selecting the novel for his summer reading list), Jones introduces us to Celestial and Roy, a newlywed couple standing on the threshold of the American Dream. When Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, their lives implode. And when his conviction is overturned five years later, both must navigate the unimaginable fallout of their enforced estrangement.

We are thrilled to welcome Tayari Jones to two virtual events this October. In addition to the author events, there will be other opportunities for thoughtful discussion of racial inequality and injustice. Registration is required for all programs in order to receive Zoom invitation information. Visit our event calendar to register (registration for October events begins September 1). These programs are intended for adults, ages 18 and up.

On the Same Page Book Club

Tuesday, September 8 | 7-8pm | Virtual

The selection for September’s discussion will be An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.


Just the Facts Book Club

Tuesday, September 8 | 7-8pm | Virtual

The selection for September’s discussion will be Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.


Documentary and Discussion – 13th

Monday, September 28 | 6-8:30pm | Virtual

At this virtual event, we will watch then discuss 13th, a documentary by Ava DuVernay that gives an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. 13th is rated TV-MA and contains intense violence, strong language, and brief nudity.


An American Marriage Virtual Book Discussion with Tayari Jones

Saturday, October 3 | 2-3pm | Virtual

Tayari Jones will be our guest via Zoom as we discuss the bestselling novel An American Marriage, moderated by HEPL librarians.


Documentary and Discussion – Strong Island

Monday, October 5 | 6-8:30pm | Virtual

At this virtual event, we will watch then discuss Strong Island. The forces of family, grief and racial injustice converge in this Oscar-nominated documentary exploring the murder of filmmaker Yance Ford’s brother. Strong Island is rated TV-MA and contains strong language and descriptions of violence.


Virtual Author Visit with Tayari Jones

Wednesday, October 14 | 7-8:30pm |Virtual

Tayari Jones will be visiting us virtually via Zoom! Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to Ms. Jones after listening to her compelling and thought-provoking talk, “An American Marriage: A Love Story Torn Apart by Social Injustice.”


Dear Martin

A William C. Morris Award Finalist and #1 New York Times bestselling debut, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, is an inspiring, powerful book that boldly tackles race relations in America through the eyes of teenager, Justyce McAllister.  Justyce is a good kid and honor student who begins writing in a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make sense of the injustice and racism he faces in his life.  Justyce is an introspective and thoughtful teenager struggling with life’s unfairness while figuring out the kind of person he wants to be.

We will be welcoming author Nic Stone to a virtual event for teens and adults on Thursday, October 1, 7-8pm. In addition to her virtual visit, the library will be holding several related events for teens throughout September. Registration is required for all programs. Visit our event calendar to register. These programs are intended for teens in grades 6-12 unless otherwise noted.


Books Build Bridges: Kehinde Wiley and Repeating Motifs

Thursday, September 3 | 4-5pm | Ignite Studio (Fishers)

We will look at the work of Kehinde Wiley, most famous for this portrait of Barack Obama. Wiley is known for his colorful paintings that portray contemporary black men and women in the context of classical paintings of royalty. His backgrounds involve repeating motifs that often relate directly to the subject. We will carve a motif out of linoleum and use it to create a pattern on a large sheet of paper that can be used as a backdrop for photos. Ages 13 and up.


Virtual Teen Lit Café – Dear Martin

Thursday, September 17 | 6-7pm | Virtual

A virtual book club exclusively for teens!  We are going to meet up online to discuss the current book selection, Dear Martin, and any other books we want to talk about!  Participants may pick up a free book ahead of time by registering and choosing a library location to pick up their bookParticipants will also have the opportunity to speak with Nic Stone via Zoom before the main author event on Thursday, October 1, 6-6:30pm!


Teen Movie & Discussion Series

Pride – Tuesday, September 1 | 4-6:30pm | Fishers

Just Mercy – Tuesday, September 8 | 4-6:30pm | Noblesville

The Hate U Give – Tuesday, September 15 | 4-6:30pm | Fishers

Selma – Tuesday, September 22 | 4-6:30pm | Noblesville

The Teen Movie & Discussion series includes movies that highlight similar themes found in the teen community read, Dear Martin, by Nic Stone. Thoughtful and respectful discussions about the topics will follow each showing.


Don’t forget to check out our list of anti-racism reads for kids and teens and adults as well!

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