FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2007
CONTACT: Sylvia Plumb, Director of Communications or Larissa Vigue Picard, Program Director, Community Reading and Discussion, 802.262.2626
Vermont Humanities Council Kicks off Vermont Reads 2007 at the Bennington Museum
Vermont Reads Day at Bennington Museum
Vermont's Statewide, One-Book Community Reading Program Brings Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop to Vermont Communities
Montpelier, VT ~ Vermont Reads, the Vermont Humanities Council's statewide, one-book community reading program, will hold a kick-off celebration at the Bennington Museum on Saturday, May 19. The free event, called Vermont Reads Day at the Bennington Museum, begins at 1:00 p.m. and runs through the afternoon with family-friendly activities surrounding the 2007 Vermont Reads book, Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop.
Vermont Reads Day will feature a book talk, slide show, and book signing by Winthrop as well as a dramatic reading with the author and actor Willy Jones. The celebration will feature French Canadian music by the Flying Garbanzos. Participants can check out hands-on learning stations about child labor, diary books, weaving, toy making, French hair-braiding, and stick spinning, as well as try a gallery hunt and one-room schoolhouse activities. The museum and Grandma Moses Schoolhouse will also be open to tour.
The celebration includes free admission to the museum for Vermont Reads participants, refreshments, and a copy of Counting on Grace to each family.
Bennington Museum, whose mission is "to preserve and interpret the rich history of southern Vermont and neighboring regions," lies just a few miles from the former mill site in Pownal where the novel Counting on Grace is set. Its mission and location made the museum an ideal choice for hosting the 2007 Vermont Reads kick-off.
"The Museum, the Bennington Free Library, the Pownal and Bennington Historical Societies, The Tutorial Center, and the schools have really run with this project from the beginning," says Larissa Vigue Picard, the Vermont Reads director. "We were impressed with the level of excitement and collaboration among these organizations-they all feel a deep investment in this story and its reverberations in the Greater Bennington area. Given the amount of work that's been done, [Vermont Reads Day] should offer families a fun and educational opportunity-for free."
Each year's Vermont Reads book echoes a different theme. Counting on Grace evokes life in New England mills in 1910 and focuses on the plight of a young girl who must leave school to work in a dangerous, air-polluted mill. The book highlights child labor, French Canadian history and culture, and the power of photographs (such as that of Grace's real-life inspiration, Addie Card) to tell stories.
"Choosing a Vermont Reads book is no easy task," says Vigue Picard. "It has to meet not only literary standards but also have broad appeal across communities and the potential for extension activities that go beyond reading and discussion. We seek out books that span the Humanities and are just waiting for someone to mine them for multidisciplinary projects. Grace was an ideal example-a great and moving read, but also full of rich history and heritage and connected to such moving photography that we could easily imagine a wide range of collaborators and activities."
Nineteen communities are taking part in the spring/summer round of Vermont Reads. They include Bennington, Benson, Brandon, Chester, Colchester/Saint Michael's College, Highgate Center, Newark, New Haven, North Hero, Orleans, Pownal, Proctor, Quechee, Shaftsbury, Swanton/St. Albans, Tunbridge, West Pawlet, Westminster, and Williamstown. In addition, the Vermont Humanities Council's Humanities Camps for middle school students in North Clarendon and East Montpelier will be reading the book. And the Vermont Department of Corrections is using the book in programs in Barre, Bennington, and St. Johnsbury. The deadline for the second and final round of applications to Vermont Reads is May 21.
It is expected that as least as many communities will apply for the late summer/fall round of the program. A fall Vermont Reads Day will be held at the Champlain Mill in Winooski on September 29 with much the same agenda as the Bennington event. More information about that event will be forthcoming.
Established in 2003, the Vermont Reads program promotes community building, open dialogue, intergenerational exchange, a focus on the humanities, and literacy. The program brings together communities around the state to discuss and build activities around a book of high quality and acclaim. Last year, more than 60 Vermont communities took part in Vermont Reads As Long as There Are Mountains by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock.
To learn more about Vermont Reads Day, contact the Bennington Museum at 802.447.1571 or the Vermont Humanities Council at 802.262.2626 x306.
VHC is especially pleased to have the support of NRG Systems, Inc. as the 2007 Vermont Reads underwriter. Based in Hinesburg, Vermont, NRG Systems is a leading manufacturer of wind measurement technology for the global wind energy industry. Vermont Public Radio is the media sponsor for Vermont Reads. VPR has been broadcasting Counting on Grace on Sunday nights at 7:00 since March 4; the unabridged reading of the book concludes on May 20. The deadline for applying to run the Vermont Reads program in the summer or fall is May 21. Communities will receive up to 75 books, based on the strength of their application, as well as multiple resource and publicity materials. To apply, visit www.vermonthumanities.org or contact Vigue Picard at 802.262.2626 x306 or [log in to unmask]
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