On the Importance of Community Reading–And the Fox Cities Book Festival
Last winter (pre-pandemic) one of my daughters missed a significant amount of school due to a prolonged health crisis. While catching up on schoolwork, she shared with me her copy of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. An avid reader, she was sucked into the classic story from the very first page.
As she described what the story invoked within her, I realized that it wasn’t just the book that enthralled her. It was the experience of reading the adventures of Charlotte, Wilbur, and their friends that kept her connected to her classmates. Reading the same story at the same time helped her stay connected with her friends and lifted her spirits, which (in turn) aided in her recovery.
Empathy Through Reading
I recently read an article about how being a reader can grow one’s capacity for empathy. It reminded me of my daughter, and how she taught me that reading doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. A book club, online book review site, or library program are great approaches to bringing readers together. The opportunity to share the human experience of a book’s characters (and hear how they resonate for readers with different viewpoints and backgrounds) not only enriches our experience of the book, but also how we process our own lives and those of the people we encounter.
Opportunity at FCBF
Since moving to the Fox Cities six years ago, I’ve attended the Fox Cities Book Festival each year. But it wasn’t until my daughter read Charlotte’s Web that I realized I craved the same feeling she experienced with her class. I wanted to connect with my community through books, authors, and other readers, and I knew just the way to go about my new mission. I knew it was time for me to get involved with the Fox Cities Book Festival.
This winter, I had the honor to begin serving on the FCBF Board of Directors. I look forward to assisting the team with their mission of connecting readers and authors. I’m confident my experience on the board will help me feel the sense of community that’s so important to us all. The festival’s authors, panels, and community Reads events are opportunities for us to grow in our love of books and in our empathy for the experiences of fellow community members. I look forward to sharing myself within the community and (more importantly) learning from the experiences of those I live among.