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West Van library starts book club for everyone

Everyone in municipality encouraged to share thoughts on 2019 Canada Reads finalist

A high school teacher in Edmonton, a teenaged Syrian refugee adjusting to a new life in Canada, a librarian in West Vancouver, you, me, your neighbour down the street who you’ve only ever nodded to, and a whole city of friends you haven’t met.

They are all different, but in so many ways, they are the same. That, at least, is one of the driving theories behind a new project beginning now at West Vancouver Memorial Library. One Book, One Community is a reading and discussion program that encourages all West Vancouverites to read the same book – Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung – and come together to explore and share ideas arising from the non-fiction work. It’s like a book club for an entire municipality.

“The goal of the project in general is just bringing people together of all different backgrounds to have conversations, to explore what they might have in common and also what their differences are and what are the reasons for those differences – just to celebrate the cultural diversity that actually exists in the community,” said Pat Cumming, acting director of West Vancouver Memorial Library. “We hear from people that they would like more opportunities to talk to people who have different backgrounds, but they just aren’t sure how to go about it, or how to make those initial connections. Starting with the One Book, One Community series, we’re hoping that in those book chats we will bring together people of all different backgrounds to have a conversation about a book, but then from that they might be able to develop a relationship.”

Homes: A Refugee Story is a perfect book to spur those discussions and help build new relationships, said Cumming. The book is a collaboration between al Rabeeah, a member of a large family that moved from Iraq to Syria and then to Canada, and Yeung, his language arts teacher at a high school in Edmonton. What started as a short story written by al Rabeeah turned into a months-long project as the young student told his teacher about life in Iraq and Syria and his family’s transition to Canada, with Yeung then gathering those conversations into a book.

Source: North Shore News

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