MIDDLEBURY-SOUTHBURY — A group of local community volunteers and organizations have come together to launch a new initiative called Tribury Reads Together.

“Tribury Reads Together’s mission is to bring our communities together through reading and discussing books that enrich our understanding of the world around us,” said Kevin Jennings, a member of the TRT steering committee and a spokesperson for the group.

“Founded by community volunteers, TRT will choose a theme for each reading, review possible titles for quality and appropriateness, and then submit a short list to the community for consideration, with the winning title being chosen by popular vote and being the one that community members are encouraged to read together,” Mr. Jennings said.

“TRT will then organize small group discussions for those who wish to take part where community members can come together with trained facilitators who will help them share their thoughts and learn together.”

“For our first theme, we have chosen the experience of being Black,“ said Julia Bower Richardson, a graduate of the Pomperaug High School Class of 2019 and a student at Cornell University, who is also a spokesperson for the group.

“We plan to then organize biannual reads that explore other themes such as the experiences of white people, Asian/Pacific Islanders, LatinX people, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, religious minorities and other strands of the diverse American population,” Ms. Richardson said.

“We will offer both an adult and a youth title each time to make it possible for all generations to participate in the program.”

“Tribury Reads Together provides a shared literary experience to launch community-wide conversations. Region 15’s partnership with the community towards these efforts is invaluable,” said Dr. Carrie Chiappetta, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Region 15. 

“These experiences enrich our community and reflect our work towards developing community respect and compassion for all aspects of diversity and is part of the work of the Equity and Inclusion Council,” 

The TRT Steering Committee has chosen five pairs of books (one for adults, one for youth) and is asking for the community to vote on one pair. Voting is open now and will close March 10; the winner will be announced a week later.

The community is invited to learn more about the initiative and to vote for a book pair at the Tribury Reads Together website, sites.google.com/view/triburyreadstogether/home.

Those interested in volunteering with TRT may contact Kevin Jennings at kevin@kevinjennings.com or Julia Bower Richardson at juliabowerrichardson@gmail.com.

Members of the TRT Steering Committee include: Heather Aronson, M.S., MLIS, head of Youth Services/Assistant Head Librarian, Southbury Public Library; Tara Beall-Gomes, NCC, LPC, Main Street Counseling LLC; Erin Birden, Ed.D., teacher in residence for Diversity and Cultural Competency in Region 15 Schools; Julia Bower Richardson, 2019 Pomperaug High School graduate, undergraduate, Cornell University; Carrie Chiappetta, Ed.D., assistant superintendent, Region 15 Schools; Kevin Jennings, CEO, Lambda Legal, former assistant secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education; Barbara Mechler, M.Ed., retired assistant superintendent, New Fairfield Schools; Barbie Granton, youth advocate for schools/sports/scouts; Susan Spelman, M.Ed., Spelman Strategic Communications Marketing and Content Strategies for Corporate and Non-Profit, and Terry Clarke Murphy, Tribury Rotary Club member.

Pairing 1: Adult Choice, “Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah;

Youth Choice, “It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah;

 Pairing 2: Adult Choice, “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” by John Lewis;

Youth Choice, “March” by John Lewis;

Pairing 3: Adult Choice, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson;

Youth Choice, “Just Mercy: A True Story of the Fight for Justice” by Bryan Stevenson;

Pairing 4: Adult and Youth Choice, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas;

Pairing 5: Adult Choice, “For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England” by Allegra di Bonaventura;

Youth Choice, “Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story” by Marilyn Nelson and Tonya Hegamin.

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