What if everyone read the same book and then joined all those readers in talking about it? That's the idea behind One Book, One Community of Monroe County. The residents of Monroe County have annually celebrated an outstanding book since 2007. This community-wide reading initiative began in 2007 with participation in The Big Read, a program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The Big Read was designed to revitalize the role of literature in American popular culture. Participants were required to read a book chosen from a list of American classics. When grant funding was not available in 2011, Monroe County shifted to One Book, One Community.
One Book, One Community of Monroe County, which was modeled after a program developed by the American Library Association, was launched in 2011 as an opportunity to engage and enlighten Monroe County residents, foster a sense of community and create a culture of reading county-wide. Every book means something unique to each reader, and reading is often a solitary act. One Book, One Community of Monroe County brings readers together, creating connections between Monroe County residents and literature.
Each year, the One Book, One Community of Monroe County selection committee chooses a readily available and discussable book written by a major author, and invites Monroe County residents to read the same book at the same time and discuss it through a series of free programs running approximately one month. Each year's events feature book discussions and free county-wide community activities related to the themes raised by provocative and inspiring stories. One Book, One Community of Monroe County aims to enrich the experience of reading for everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, income or the neighborhood they call home.