June 14 2002

142 Libraries Take Part In Unprecedented Statewide Program Inviting Californians to Read the Same Book

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Council for the Humanities today announced that 142 California libraries will participate in its unprecedented statewide reading and story sharing program this October. Called California Stories: Reading The Grapes of Wrath, the program aims to strengthen communities by bringing Californians together to read John Steinbeck’s classic novel, share their own stories, and discuss parallels between the book and the contemporary California experience. Californians are encouraged to read the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel this summer in preparation for various fall events and discussion groups at libraries, community centers and other venues around the state.

“From the beginning, the governor and I have made it our mission to turn California into a land of readers,” First Lady Sharon Davis said. “We hope that this unique program will not only bring communities together, but also inspire more Californians to make independent reading an everyday habit.”

“The California Stories project is a win-win for our state,” said Ketty Mazzoni, California Governor Secretary for Education. “I enthusiastically support this innovative program’s commitment to reading, celebrating diversity and learning about our collective past and present.”

“While there have been several one city, one book programs, nothing of this scale or ambition has been attempted before,” said Jim Quay, Executive Director of the Council. “This program is the first ever to be statewide, to involve a book specifically relevant to California and to encourage participants to share their own stories.”

“The Golden State is uni-quely diverse. Half of us were born elsewhere, and that hasn’t changed in 150 years,” continued Quay. “Each Californian has a story to tell, but we have few opportunities to come together and find out about each other. This program gives Californians from every walk of life a chance to red and discuss the book together, consider the place of their own story in the story of California and discover that book’s relevant to current California issues.”

Fall events to take place across the state

Thanks to significant funding from the California State Library, the Council is providing participating libraries with resources to establish, film and speaker programs in the fall that also include discussion groups. An online tool box which includes a discussion guide, bibliography and filmography is available to anyone interested, and numerous other groups across the state plan to engage the public.

A first-ever Spanish-language edition

To provide greater access to California’s growing Hispanic population, Penguin Books (a key supporter of the project) is publishing the first Spanish-language edition of The Grapes of Wrath for the U.S. market. Las Uvas de la Ira will be released in early July.

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