Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Immigration

Welcome back to the virtual book club on difficult topics – we hope that these resources have helped spark conversations and new ideas for all of you! This week, we’re looking at another facet in the social justice sphere – immigration. Specifically, that of undocumented immigrants and people of color.  

As always, we’ve got a list of books to start your reading journey, local organizations that could use your support, and more reading to further the conversation. Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to Hoopla, one of our emedia sites. Just log in with your library card number and PIN, and you’re ready to go! 

Books to start the conversation: 

Local Organizations to Support: 

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants

Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland  

The Refugee Response 

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland – Migration and Refugee Services

US Citizenship Privilege Checklist: 

  1. Most if not all of the time I am able to surround myself with people who share a common or collective history, who understand the norms of U.S. society, who speak the same language that I do, and who understand my culture.  
  2. I can see my nation as “default” – it is normal, everybody else is “different”.  
  3. I can view my cultural norms as universal.  
  4. I do not know what is like to have war in my homeland.  
  5. I expect people in other countries to speak my language when I travel abroad.  
  6. I can assume everybody knows, or should know, my culture (for example, “American Idol” contestants).  
  7. I can assume no one else has any of the technological advantages I have (for example, assuming others do not know how to use a computer or oven).  
  8. I can easily ignore the fact that most news stories are told from the USAmerican or Western point of view and are not a universal truth.  
  9. I assume everybody wants to live in the United States, since I have been trained to believe is the best place to live (even without universal health care).  
  10. I see people from other countries as inferior to me, even if they are highly educated and successful. 

The list continues here, in the Examples of US Citizenship Privilege document from the University of Michigan. 

For further reading, check out this summary of key findings on immigrants from the Pew Research Center, a teaching guide on refugees from the UN Refugee Agency, and a lesson plan on asylum seekers from the Advocates of Human Rights

Check back next Sunday for more of the virtual book club!

Virtual Book Club – Week 5 – Book Woman

We can’t believe it’s the final week of our May virtual book club already! So in this last Sunday, we’re going to wrap up the discussion of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

If you’re just finding this post today, no worries! Click the link above to get a copy of the book from Hoopla, where it is always available. If you are a little late to join the discussion, you can always go back and comment on the older posts, too, using the ‘virtual book club’ tag. We are so interested to hear what you think about this fascinating work of historical fiction, so please share! Now, let’s get to the discussion questions:

  • What do you think life was like for the people of Troublesome? What are some of the highlights of living in such a remote place? What are some of the challenges the people on Cussy’s library route face?  
  • Back then, entering into a prohibited or interracial marriage in Kentucky was a misdemeanor that could result in incarceration, and we see these racial tensions attempt to sever Cussy and Jackson’s relationship. Discuss antimiscegenation laws and marriage laws. Do you think this kind of prejudice still exists toward interracial couples?  
  • What do you think happens to Cussy, Jackson, Honey, and the other inhabitants of Troublesome after the story ends? Imagine you were Cussy. How would you feel leaving Troublesome for good? 

Questions from the author’s website.

Thank for you joining us on this journey into the hills of Appalachia! We hoped you learned a lot about life in Kentucky during the Great Depression, the Librarian Pack Horse Program, and about Kentucky’s famous Blue People.  

And please make sure to join us for the Summer Reading Program, starting June 6! Find more information here. Check back here at the blog every week for more summer reading posts, book lists, virtual programs, and lots of other fun stuff!

Virtual Book Club – Week 4 – Book Woman

This Memorial Day weekend, we’re talking about another holiday celebration: one that takes place in The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.

If you’d like to read along with us, click the link above to go to Hoopla, one of our e-media services. All you need is your card number and PIN to check out a copy of the book – no holds, no waiting! And what better to do over a long weekend stuck at home than to read? Now, let’s get to the discussion…

  • How do you think Cussy feels when she is ostracized at the Independence Day celebration, despite her change of skin color? Can you relate to her feelings of isolation? 
  • If Cussy was alive today, do you think she would still face the same kind of prejudices against her skin color that she did during the Great Depression?
  • Cussy has to deal with the loss of many loved ones in a very short amount of time. How do you think she handles her grief? Which loss was the most difficult for you to read?  

Some questions from the author’s website, some additions by me.

Check back next Sunday for our final week of discussing Book Woman! We’ll post the last batch of discussion questions and close out our virtual book club for May. Whether you comment or just read, we’re happy you’re here!

Virtual Book Club – Week 3 – Book Woman

Hello everyone, it’s time again for our virtual book club! We’re in our third week of talking about The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, which you can get right now from Hoopla if you click that link. No waiting, no holds, always available!

This week, we will talk about the community scrapbooks that Cussy makes, as well as a ‘spoilery’ question about Cussy’s genetic condition. Don’t read the second question if you haven’t read about the ‘cure’ for Cussy’s blueness. You’ve been warned!

  • Imagine you were making a community scrapbook like the ones Cussy distributes to the people of Troublesome. What would you include? Do you think these materials were helpful to Cussy’s library patrons?  
  • When Cussy receives the cure for her blueness from Doc, she realizes there’s a price to pay for her white skin and the side effects soon become too much to handle. If you were in Cussy’s shoes, would you sacrifice your health for a chance at “normalcy”? If there weren’t any side effects, do you think Cussy would have continued to take the medication? Would you? 

Questions from the author’s website.

We’re dying to hear what you think in the comment section below! And make sure to check back next Sunday for our next batch of discussion questions and comments.

Check out our new Virtual Book Club!

It’s Sunday. What day of quarantine is it? Who knows – we’ve all been stuck inside for what seems like forever.

We librarians know that you miss all of our face-to-face library programs, but especially our beloved book clubs. So, good news, everyone: we are hosting a virtual book club! And the first book is… drumroll please… Little Fires Everywhere! (Click that title for a direct link to the book in our Overdrive e-book catalog).

Set in our very own Shaker Heights, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a gripping drama of the complicated relationships between Mia Warren, a wandering artist, her daughter Pearl, and the rich family of socialites that are their landlords. The streaming service Hulu also just released their adaptation of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

We’ll be talking about this book through the month of April and will post a few questions to discuss each week on Sunday. If the quarantine continues, we’ll announce a new book at the beginning of May, and so on.

We invite you, our lovely patrons, to make your voices heard in the comments below. Tell us if you think Mia is a scam artist, or if Elena is a crazy stalker! We want to hear it all, but please keep your comments courteous.

Our first questions are: 

  • How would you describe Mrs. Richardson and Mia, the two mothers in this novel? In what ways are they different? Why might the former always be referred to as “Mrs.” rather than Elena, while Mia is always referred to by her first name? Clearly it is done purposely by the author: how does it shape the way we feel about the two women? 
  • Talk about the four Richardson children, Lexi, Trip, Moody, and Izzy. Are any of the four more sympathetic than others? What is their relationship to one another? How does their affluence shape their outlooks on life?

Questions from litlovers.com.

Check back next Sunday for more discussion questions!