Written by Resident Events On January 27, 2017
The One Book One Community trend was started by Seattle readers in 1998. Its purpose is to promote the reading of a single book by a whole city or community so that they have something in common and something to discuss. Now, almost two decades later, most major cities have a one book program listed as part of their public library system.
As a resident community, you can take advantage of this trend by making it easier for residents to find, read, and discuss the chosen books. You can also choose a title of your own and then build an event around it.
To get ideas of which books might be appropriate for your community, take a look at what other communities are reading all around the U.S.
The Library of Congress also maintains listings of all past and present One Book projects across the United States. The list is organized by both location and author. To browse their list you can visit their website which also includes links to many of the individual projects.
Planning your event
To support your community One Book project there are numerous local and national resources to help you plan you event.
For larger communities and serious projects, the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs office has a 44-page guide called One Book, One Community: Planning Your Community-Wide Read. You can download the printable PDF from their website.
If you need more how-to information, you will find additional tips and ideas available online from the Seattle Public Library (where the reading trend first started) or your nearest public library website.
Discussion guides and event support
Some large and well-known publishers, like Random House and others, offer One Book support for these ambitious community reading projects.
Publishers may offer author biographies, discussion guides, teacher guides, poster images, bookmark templates, and other useful reading and event planning assets.
All of these additional resources can help you craft professional looking posters, cards, and other marketing materials for your community. They will also help you put together great discussion starter questions for your post-reading group event.
Local and independent authors
If you are not interested in going the bestseller route, you can also seek out local authors - especially self-published or independent authors - to find those that might be willing to give an author talk and/or give discounts on their novel for your community to use.
Contacting local libraries
Your local public library is a great place to start when it comes to planning a book reading event.
For those who choose not to purchase their own copy of the book, you will want to help arrange for book rentals so more residents can participate.
Check with your local library to inquire what titles are available for book clubs. Many public libraries offer special packages of books for participants to check out and read together. You may have to get on a wait list for the title you most want to read, so be sure to contact them early and get in the list so your event stays on schedule!
***TIP*** After gauging interest with residents, you can also contact local book retailers and publishers to inquire about quantity discounts. If enough residents are willing to purchase the book, you may be able to collect payment in advance and get them a good deal on their books by ordering en masse.