Award winner ‘The Giver' picked for One Book project
By AMY L. ZITKA, Middletown Press Staff February 26, 2003
Tom Warren/The Middletown Press Pat Tucker of the Middletown Rotary Club and Mayor Domenique Thornton unveil The Giver by Lois Lowry as the book chosen for the One Book One Middletown project at City Hall on Tuesday.
MIDDLETOWN -- The wait is over.
Mayor Domenique Thornton and the One Book, One Middletown Committee on Tuesday announced the title of the book selected to be read by the community in an effort to pull citizens together. Out of five considered titles, the committee chose Lois Lowry's "The Giver."
"This is an excellent opportunity for the City of Middletown," Thornton said of the literacy effort. The book, a Newbery Medal recipient, "was selected with the advice of several anonymous helpers."
Community leaders including officials from Middlesex United Way, the Northern Middlesex YMCA, Wesleyan University, Middletown schools, the Russell Library and City Hall gathered in the Council Chambers to find out which book was selected.
Thornton credited the Rotary Club and Rotarian Pat Tucker who told her about the One Book project.
The One Book project originated in Seattle and is a community-wide effort designed to encourage older and young adults to read the same book at the same time. The One Book, One Middletown effort came about last year when the Rotary's Literacy Committee was told by Middletown Literacy Volunteers about a program in Chicago where a book is chosen every six months.
Other organizations involved in the effort were Middlesex Community College, the North End Action Team and Literacy Volunteers.
"The Giver," published in 1993, is classified as a young adult book. It depicts a utopian society in which a 12-year-old boy is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as The Giver. The youth discovers the truth about his utopian world and how it came to be and struggles against the weight of the hypocrisy.
"The book is one of reflection," Thornton said. "It's a good read; something (relates) at this particular point of national history. I think we all need to remember those moments."
The book carefully examines and remembers history, the mayor said, adding "lest it not be repeated."
The book is part of the reading curriculum for the eighth grade, Schools Supt. Carol Parmelee-Blancato said.
"This is really just the beginning," said Tucker, a member of the One Book, One Middletown Committee. Following Tuesday's announcement, the committee is giving citizens four to five weeks to read the book, she said, adding there will be upcoming announcements for events involving the book.
Events are tentatively being scheduled for between April 5 and 12, she said.
"We're hoping there'll be contact with the author," Tucker said. Committee members are hoping there will be discussion groups.
"It's a good thing for the town," Thornton said. "I'm hoping people read the book and start talking about it."
The mayor added this project is a community-building effort.
"The best teacher is the example of adults reading," she said. "We should make it a public statement. It's fun."
Within the book, the concept of homeland security takes on concrete reality, Thornton said. No other question is more pertinent to the citizens of the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11 catastrophe, she said.
Some of the themes in the novel include diversity versus the common good, tranquility versus emotional intensity and comfortable predictability versus painful choice, Thornton said.
"These are some of the themes in this novel that we hope will spark discussion in our city while America continues its struggle to pursue freedom in perilous times," she said.
The book is expected to be easy to find within the city, Tucker said. It is available for sale at Amato's Toy and Hobby and Atticus Books. About 100 copies are expected to be available for loan at the Russell Library, and the Rotary Club has 50 copies available to "try to circulate" through the community, she said.
©The Middletown Press 2003
In Praise Of Human Connections
Reading Program Picks Young Adult Novel, `The Giver'
February 26, 2003
By JOSH KOVNER, Courant Staff Writer
MIDDLETOWN -- The selection Tuesday of Lois Lowry's novel "The Giver" for a citywide reading, followed by a series of community discussions in the spring, seems fitting.
Lowry, a revered writer of no-nonsense books for young adults, has said that the theme running through her 30 novels is the value of human connections.
That's what Pat Tucker and Elissa Breiling were aiming for when they brought the national literacy project One Book, One City, to Middletown.
Begun in Seattle, perfected in Chicago and enjoyed in the past several years in Hartford, Newington, Meriden and Westport, the idea is to get a lot of people in one place reading the same book, and then talking about it.
"The Giver," written a decade ago and read by scores of Middletown eighth-graders, concerns a colorless Utopian society threatened by an old man and a little boy who discover the joyous and painful memories of the real world.
Tucker, who owns a telecommunications business and is chairwoman of the Rotary club's literacy committee, said the book was chosen from among dozens of titles by a cross-section of Middletown folks she brought together.
Tucker said "The Giver" has all the prerequisites: broad appeal, a timeless theme that is particularly relevant today and short enough (187 pages) to ensure high readership.
Tucker said that Breiling, former head of Literacy Volunteers of Middletown, introduced her to the communal reading program.
Tucker and Mayor Domenique Thornton kicked off One Book, One Middletown at a gathering Tuesday afternoon at city hall. Within 30 minutes, two of the 50 copies of "The Giver" at Russell Library had been checked out. The Rotary also has copies for community circulation, and the book is available at area bookstores.
Tucker said that in five or six weeks, discussions will be scheduled at cafes and other spots around the city.
"We're also trying to arrange a visit from the author. The mayor's office is working on that now," said Tucker. "We're hoping the discussion groups bring together people who might not otherwise meet. In this case, that might mean the elderly and children, which is a strong theme in "The Giver."