Reading Across Rhode Island

An Afternoon with Bryan Stevenson Poster


An Afternoon with Bryan Stevenson

On April 8, 2017 Bryan Stevenson, will give a keynote lecture about the value of proximity in encouraging empathy and mercy in our criminal justice system.

The lecture will take place at 2:00 PM, with the opportunity for book signing after the lecture. Doors open at 1:30 PM.

Date: Saturday, April 8

Time: 2:00 – 4:00 PM

Location: McVinney Auditorium, 43 Dave Gavitt Way, Providence, RI

Purchase your ticket at TODAY!

2017 Reading Across Rhode Island Title: Just Mercy  by Bryan Stevenson

Calendar of Events
Resource Guide
2017 EnRICHment Speakers
RSVP for RARI 15th Anniversary Celebration

Reading Across Rhode Island, Rhode Island’s One Book, One State community read program kicks off its 15th year by inviting everyone to join in the reading of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.  Reading Across Rhode Island is a program of the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, made possible through a vibrant collaboration of librarians, teachers, book group leaders and readers from across the state. The 2017 program runs from January through May with readers in Rhode Island classrooms, libraries, community centers,
bookstores and book groups invited to join discussions and participate in local community events such as lectures, exhibits and dramatic interpretations centered on this year’s selection.

justmercy-pb-2About This Year’s Book
An unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of mercy. Bryan Stevenson was
a gifted young attorney when he founded Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice
dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the
furthest reaches of our criminal justice system.
Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery,
Alabama and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief
for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and
won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.
He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.
“We are so thrilled to learn that Just Mercy has been chosen as the 2017 Reading Across
Rhode Island selection. We truly believe that the more people who read this book, the
better the country will become.” – Caitlin Mccaskey, Random House.

“Even before we started this election process, we did have a sense that there was a lack of
communication between communities, from Black Lives Matter protests to NFL players
kneeling during the national anthem. The intense debate arising from these protests
reinforced our sense of the need for dialogue. The first RARI book was chosen 15 years
ago – the 9/11 attacks occurred the year before and a heaviness and wariness still
remained. A group of librarians, educators and readers met to find a project that would be
a positive step forward in the aftermath of the tragedy. They were inspired by initiatives
in Seattle and Chicago where whole communities had come together to read one inspiring
book, gathering for discussions on the book’s theme,” stated Kate Lentz, Director of the
Rhode Island Center for the Book. “Bryan Stevenson’s powerful, well written story
presents bleak, almost overwhelming injustice against part of our population leavened by
his hard work, hope and eventually good results for his clients. Just Mercy is an updated
To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Reading Across Rhode Island Kick Off Video from January 29th from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at the
Providence Public Library, Providence, RI

Readers joined Reading Across Rhode Island Honorary Chairs Judge Judith
Colenback Savage and Judge Edward C. Clifton, both retired trial justices of the Rhode
Island Superior Court and Distinguished Jurists in Residence at Roger Williams
University School of Law as they led a distinguished panel for an engaging introduction
to the book’s themes of proximity, understanding, and justice.
The kick-off event gave book group leaders an introduction to resources and
materials provided through Reading Across Rhode Island to catalyze interesting

Other Planned Events:
Join us for An Afternoon With Bryan Stevenson on April 8th
at McVinney Auditorium in Providence, RI. Registration for this event will be available
on the Rhode Island Center for the Book website in February. Look for other upcoming
book-related events throughout the year at
Sets of books are available for loan to classroom teachers, library discussion groups and
senior centers by contacting Further reading lists, book discussion
guides, the author’s website, audio interviews and other supplementary materials may be
found on the Rhode Island Center for the Book website at

Bryan Stevenson Website
The Equal Justice Initiative
Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk

Check out this year’s Reading Across Rhode Island  Sponsors!

Rhode Island Center for the Book at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities is
a statewide organization devoted to promoting personal and community enrichment by
celebrating the art and heritage of reading, writing, making, and sharing books. Founded
in 2003, the RI Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the
Library of Congress and is hosted by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. The
Humanities Council’s mission is to seed, support, and strengthen public history, cultural
heritage, civic education, and community engagement


2016 The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

2015 Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller

2014 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

2013 The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

2012 Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

2011 The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney

2010 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

2009   Five Skies by Ron Carlson

2008   Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

2007   The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty

2006   Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

2005   The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

2004   The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

2003   Wish You Well by David Baldaci

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