BOOKS: NATIONAL FAMILY LITERACY MONTH RECOMMENDATIONS

Reading with Patrick By Michelle Kuo

After graduating Harvard, Michelle Kuo accepted one of the most challenging positions available

with Teach for America. Filled with tremendous hope, she arrived in the small town of Helena,

Arkansas. Reality immediately set in when she entered the completely dilapidated, neglected

and forgotten town. The public school was filled with students left behind generations ago.

Using her love of reading, as well as patience and pure kindness, Michelle found ways to encourage the students. Never before having been asked what they thought, Michelle inspired the students to voice their opinions and dreams through books and stories. Years later, after attending Harvard Law School, Michelle is notified a student named Patrick, whom she had been close with, was in jail accused of murder. Even though she longed to begin her law career in California, she could not abandon Patrick or her belief that education can make a difference. This mesmerizing account of non-fiction should be required reading for parents, teachers and students alike. Our country has a long road of hard work ahead to fulfill the most basic human rights for every single child.

The Giver of Stars By Jojo Moyes

Alice Wright feels like she is suffocating in 1930s England. She is repeatedly disappointing her conservative uptight parents and dreams of a different life. When she meets the very charming Bennett Van Cleve, it is her chance to start over again in America. Alice and Bennett marry quickly and travel across the ocean where, to her shocking dismay, they continue their challenging journey to a small town in Kentucky. It is in Baileyville that Alice has the opportunity to join the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, a group Eleanor Roosevelt created to make jobs and spread literacy in these remote mountain towns. As her marriage slowly withers, Alice realizes she traded one kind of loneliness for another. Going against her father-in-law’s wishes, she finds happiness with this brave group of women who deliver books throughout the harsh terrain. Focusing on criminal coal mine owners, women’s rights, racism and education, this fascinating work of historical fiction by Jojo Moyes reminds us of the beauty, importance and the right of every single person to be literate.

The Moonlight School By Suzanne Woods Fisher

Lucy and her extremely wealthy father live in an upscale area of Louisville, Kentucky. The untimely death of her mother and disappearance of her sister years ago left a gaping hole in her heart. After Lucy graduates from a prestigious girls’ finishing school, her only ambition is to find a suitable husband. When her father’s cousin Cora Wilson Stewart requests Lucy assist her as a scribe for six months in the mountains of Appalachia, she is quite hesitant. Stunned by the severely poverty-stricken county, Lucy learns that most residents are illiterate. Having arrived in Rowan County with nothing more than the goal to leave as swiftly as possible, Lucy falls quickly in awe of Cousin Cora’s mission to help the mountain people preserve their generous loving community. In 1911, it was believed there was a “window for learning” and it was already too late for adults. These brave women proved that declaration was untrue and did everything they could to give the gift of reading to all. Based on the true story of Cora Wilson Stewart’s mission to spread adult literacy, this inspirational story will melt your heart.

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Karen Newfield is first and foremost a reader, she has reviewed hundreds of books on her blog www.readingandeating.com. And, more recently, this new Keys resident has also begun writing.