• Annual literacy event to feature the book "Refugee" with alternate companion books for younger students. Event is free to the public

    “All are welcome.” That’s the theme to this year’s fifth annual One Book, One Bellefonte event that will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Bellefonte Area High School lobby. Under the umbrella of Bellefonte Reads, the goal is to help connect the community through a series of books that correlate with the latest theme of inclusivity.

    Families in the community are invited to the event to participate in literacy activities and go home with a free book. Those who cannot attend the kickoff event on Feb. 21 may visit the Centre County Library the week of Feb. 25-29 to pick up a book. Literacy Night will follow on March 14 at the high school.

    Selected by a committee that oversees Bellefonte Reads, members chose to highlight five books this year.  The feature book is “Refugee” by Alan Gratz, for students in middle school and higher, and is accompanied by companion books with similar messages for younger students. The other alternate books are, “Wishtree,” by Katherine Applegate; “Her Right Foot,” by Dave Eggers; “Strictly No Elephants,” by Lisa Mantchev; and “We Are All Dots,” by Giancarlo Macri.

    According to Bellefonte Reads committee co-chairwomen Nicole Kohlhepp and Jackie Wynkoop, families are encouraged to read and talk about the selected book or books together – to help challenge perspectives, spark discussion and inspire action.

    The event is made possible with support from the AAUW that offered Bellefonte Reads with a $1,500 grant to put toward the purchase of books; Walmart that gave a $1,000 community grant; Bellefonte Area Education Association that provided $300; and Thrivent Financial that provided $250. Some district staff members also donated funds to put toward efforts of Bellefonte Reads.

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    • “Refugee” follows the story of three young people who go on separate journeys in search of refuge. Along the way, they face challenges, but all have hope.
    • Through the perspective of a tree, “Wishtree” tells the story of a family who recently moves to an area near the tree, but is not welcome by others.
    • “Her Right Foot” is a picture book that explains why the right foot of the Statue of Liberty is in motion.
    • “Strictly No Elephants” is a book for early elementary school-aged children about a boy and his pet elephant who finds that the local pet club doesn’t allow elephants. However the boy sets out on a mission to find a solution.
    • “We Are All Dots: A Plan for a Better World” is a book that helps explain that humanity’s challenges can be settled by compassion and understanding.

    “Refugee” contains content that may be sensitive to others, including younger students, however reviews and more information can be found by visitng Common Sense media, which has reviews and other information geared toward parents. It can be found, here: Information and reviews. A video summary about the book, can also be found, here: Video summary.

    To learn more about the Bellefonte Reads initiative, visit this link: Bellefonte READS. You may also find the event flyer, here, with more information: Flier

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD