Community unites around One Book
In almost every culture throughout history, humans have gathered to share stories. With the One Book One Community program, students, teachers and community members in Park City are returning to those roots.
The program is a blend of two programs, the original One Book One Community series put on by the Park City Library, Summit County Library and Dolly’s Bookstore, as well as the Park City Education Foundation and Park City High School’s Author-in-Residence event. Both programs would encourage students and residents to read a book together and bring the author in to speak to the community.
For students, it was an opportunity to learn about the writing and editing process and to gain better appreciation for novels. For the community, it was a way to “make the world seem a little bit smaller,” said Kate Mapp, adult services librarian for the Park City Library. Now, the combined program aims to do both.
Although organizers informally blended the programs two years ago, they officially combined them this year and adopted the name One Book One Community. This is also the first year that the event is taking place in January and not the fall, a change the PCEF made because of feedback from students and parents. The book selected for this year is “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys.
The program is scheduled to have its kick-off event at the Park City Library on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The film “Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story” will be featured and producer Paige Keiter, a Park City alumna, will speak with the audience during a question-and-answer session, Mapp said.
Mapp said that the film is meant to drive dialogue, since both the book and the film discuss stories of refugees.
“When we read historical fiction, or any history book, we’re reading about the past and trying to learn the lessons that we can reflect on,” she said. “This is bringing a modern take to the refugee situation and allowing us to have thoughtful dialogue about current situations and how that might pertain to the book.”
“Salt to the Sea”takes place during the final years of World War II in northeastern Europe. It is told from the perspective of four refugees who are fleeing the war to seek freedom.
Kelly Yeates, an English teacher at Park City High School and co-coordinator of the program, said that the novel has intrigue, adventure and suspense, so it has not been hard to get her students to enjoy it. Yeates assigned the book to her classes and will have discussions leading up to and following the culmination of the program, when Ruta Sepetys speaks to the students and the community in January.
Yeates had her students participate in what was formerly known as Author-in-Residence for several years. She found that the parents of students were often reading the books with them and that they too wanted to meet the authors.
“The stories are appealing to adults as well as the students,” she said. “And I feel like anytime you can have a conversation about these books and these stories and involve parents and the community in what is going on at the schools, it’s a positive thing.”
Sara Hutchinson, the program officer for the Park City Education Foundation, agreed.
“This is a book that seventh-grade through WWII veterans would enjoy,” she said.
If the book fuels conversation between seventh-graders and WWII veterans, that would be a perfect representation of the program’s goal.
“It brings us together and makes the world a little bit smaller,” Mapp said.
More program events are scheduled throughout the month. A book discussion is set to take place on Dec. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Dolly’s Bookstore and the Summit County Library is screening the film “Sinking the Gustloff: A Tragedy Exiled from Memory” on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. Sepetys will speak to students at the high school on Jan. 8 and 9, and a community event will take place on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Jim Santy Auditorium.
A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.