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BEA Reads program unites a community

By Staff | Mar 25, 2018

Blue Earth librarian Eva Gaydon holds a copy of the book “Wonder.”

The BEA Reads program is in its fourth year and picking up great momentum as this year’s chosen published work is one of last year’s top movies of 2017.
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio was the book chosen for BEA Reads this year. The BEA Reads website describes the book as “a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next.”
This book depicts life around August “Auggie” Pullman, who has a medical condition known as Treacher Collins Syndrome. Life for Auggie isn’t easy, and it does not necessarily get any easier when the home schooled student has to go to public school.
According to head librarian at the Blue Earth Community Library Eva Gaydon, there is not necessarily a specific structure the librarians choose for the BEA Reads book.
“It just has to have mass appeal and it has to be a good book – good characters, or a good storyline,” she says. “Our first year, we read ‘Orphan Train’ by Christina Baker Kline, which many women could connect with, especially mothers. The next year, we read ‘The Things They Carried,’ by Tim O’Brien which resonated with a number of veterans as well as folks who grew up in the Vietnam War era. Last year, we read ‘Ordinary Grace’ by William Kent Kreuger, who is a local writer, so we had a great amount of fun with that book.”
“This year’s book is a poignant topic for not only our students, but our parents in the area,” said head librarian at Muir Library, Heidi Schutt. “We are so excited to see the energy the book has already gotten from some of the readers and we would love to see those copies of the book continue to circulate.”
More than 30 copies of the book have been disbursed throughout the county, and there are also copies available at each library to check out, as well as an audio version and a large print version available. There are even ebook copies available this year.
“This book really focuses on relationships both in and out of school and how it not only relates to others, but involves others as well,” says Gaydon. “A lot of people can relate to this book. It’s geared to adults, but this one can be read at any age. We have so many young readers already getting something out of it.”
This year, the BEA Reads program is all about inclusivity, which is why the program has doubled their efforts to cover conversation topics, activities, and a special guest at the Blue Earth Community Library, Muir Library in Winnebago, and the Elmore Public Library.
“We are starting out with our Wonder Days, which again touches on inclusivity. There will be multiple activity stations at each library on their Wonder Day and there will be Blue Earth Area High School students involved in the Peer Helping program to assist with those stations, it should be really fun,” says Gaydon. “And of course, we will have lots of treats for everyone.”
Wonder Day at the Muir Library will take place on April 7, at 10 a.m., at the Blue Earth Library on April 10, at 3 p.m.; and at the Elmore Public Library on April 18, at 4 p.m.
Each library will also host a book discussion night, where an open dialogue about the book will take place to anyone who is interested in sharing their experience reading “Wonder.” The Elmore Public Library’s book discussion will take place on April 11, at 3:30 p.m., while Blue Earth Community Library will play host on April 19, at 6 p.m., and Muir Library’s discussion date is set for April 23, at 7 p.m.
The Elmore Library will also be hosting a discussion and movie night for teens, so those who have read the book, or haven’t, can come and enjoy the major motion picture based on the book. Feel free to head to Elmore on April 13, for a movie that will start at 6 p.m. They will also have another showing of the movie for all ages on April 18, at 6 p.m. The movie is rated PG?and runs one hour and 53 minutes.
Last, and certainly not least, special guest Steve Bensen will be visiting each of the three libraries to share his chapter. Steve, who is married to BEA alumni Casey Barnes and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, the same syndrome protagonist Auggie has in “Wonder.” Bensen will talk with residents and students about living life with Treacher Collins Syndrome and how “living life with fake ears can be just as exciting as living with real ones.”
Bensen will be visiting the Muir Library on April 24, at 7 p.m., the Elmore Public Library on April 25, at 6 p.m., and at the Blue Earth Community Library on April 26, at 6 p.m.
And, as mentioned before, “Wonder” isn’t just for adults. The Blue Earth Community Library will be having Wonder Storytime on April 5, at 10:30 a.m., while the Muir Library will have Wonder Storytime on April 16, at 10 a.m.
Those who have a copy of the BEA Reads book are asked to read the book in a timely fashion, and pass it on to a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or even a random community member. All events of the BEA Reads program are entirely free to the public.