By JAKE SEXTON
This year the One Book, One San Diego program celebrates its 15th year of bringing people together through literature. Libraries and other organizations work with KPBS on promoting this program and the community at large selects a book that can be read by all. In the process they build connections “through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book.”
Each year, libraries plan events, discussions and interactions with authors to talk about the books and the themes they cover. Past titles have included Sonia Nazario’s “Enrique’s Journey,” Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Shadow of the Wind,” and Congressman John Lewis’ “March.” This past August, the 2021 titles for the adult, teen and children’s age groups were announced. We’ll talk about them here.
For adults, this year’s book is “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist” by Judith Heumann. The author contracted polio at a very young age and has used a wheelchair for most of her life. She faced grave discrimination in her attempts to receive an education as a child, and as an adult while teaching students in public schools. Her struggles against injustice led to her life of activism for the rights of people with disabilities, through legal challenges, political protests, and civil disobedience. Her groundbreaking work has led to significant civil rights legislation and regulation across the country. Heumann will be part of a virtual online discussion for One Book, One San Diego on Sept. 23; an archived video will be available for at least two weeks after the live event.
For teens, this year’s selection is the graphic novel “When Stars Are Scattered” by Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed and Iman Geddy. The book is the story of young Omar and his brother Hassan who fled war in their home of Somalia and grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp. Omar decides the only way to improve their situation is to take the opportunity to get an education. But if he does so, he’ll have to leave his non-verbal younger brother alone. It’s a story of tragedy and hope, with beautiful artwork.
The children’s selection this year is the picture book “All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything” by Annette Bay Pimentel and Nabi H. Ali. It is the biography of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, a disability rights activist from a young age, who participated in protests to fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The book dramatizes the Capitol Crawl, a protest in which many activists set aside their wheelchairs and mobility aids and dragged their bodies up the steps of the U.S. Capitol building, to demonstrate the difficulties faced by people with disabilities.
You can download a copy of any of these titles from the San Diego County Library at sdcl.org with no wait. You can also get copies of these books from your local library branch. In addition, the La Mesa Library will be hosting a “Being Heumann” book discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. For more information about these books, and upcoming One Book, One San Diego activities in the area, visit www.kpbs.org/one-book.
— Jake Sexton is a librarian at the La Mesa Branch of the San Diego County Library.