The Rhode Island Center for the Book’s mission to connect Rhode Islanders through a one-book-one-state reading program seems more vital in 2021 than ever before. It is through our shared experiences that we build our state community, and during this time of social distancing this type of non-profit community programming helps us stay connected as we read a common text and enter into conversations with each other about the topics that matter to us.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds was released to the world the very week that our schools closed due to the rising numbers of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a teacher, I was not only adjusting to a virtual landscape but doing so at a time of great social unrest in our country. And my students wanted to talk about it. Fate seemed to have landed this book in my lap as I tried to help my students understand what was happening and what they wanted to do about it. Through these months I was also reading dozens of books as our committee was considering which would be the next Reading Across Rhode Island selection. Among many great contenders, Stamped rose to the top as a gift to us all to support our conversations and activism.
Stamped promises not to be a history book, while it offers the historical context to bring the past to the present to help us understand and take action steps to end racism. Reynolds’ conversational narration invites us into the text, welcomes us to consider the complexities of past events, and asks us to be active participants in the fight for equity and justice.
Unlike in previous years when we’ve offered an Educator’s Guide, we are fortunate that an excellent, free one already exists. So instead, this year we are offering a Programming Guide for you to consider joining us for a series of events related to the book, and a Resource Directory including a collection of links for all readers, including educators, librarians, parents, book clubs and community members.
In his introduction to the book, Kendi writes, “To know the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.” My hope for this year’s Reading Across Rhode Island experience is that we will bring ourselves to this book, look for ourselves within its pages, and then enter into conversations with each other about how we can work together across our generations to get to know each other, what we care about, and how we can work together toward a more equitable future for all who live in Rhode Island. I look forward to meeting you through our programming events and am eager to hear from you about your reflections on the book and how you’re experiencing it with your family, students, colleagues and communities. Thank you for participating in Reading Across Rhode Island.
Maureen Nagle Reading Across Rhode Island Education Chair email@example.com