Project Lit Comes to McPherson

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By Tomi Simmons

          A local book club in McPherson, Kan. has expanded tremendously. The book club chapter Project Lit Mac was founded by McPherson High School English teacher Erica Shook. Last year it was based on Shook’s dual credit students who wanted more extensive lists of books to read and things that they could relate to. Also, it was a way for the community to discuss books and social issues. After the club got so much success, it partnered with the McPherson Public Library for the community to have more access to join.

          Project Lit was initially founded in Nashville, Tenn. by an English high school educator. The goal was to address “book deserts.”

          Shook said, “Book deserts are places that don’t have books available within miles of where people are.” After it became popular in that area of Tennessee, Project Lit chapters were created across the country and even became a part of the McPherson, Kan. community.

          “Last year, book discussions were held at McPherson High School, and this year the McPherson Public Library is the meeting place for Project Lit Mac,” said Shook.

          Since the McPherson Library is in a partnership, it means that the books for every month being read are available at the library. Also, the Main Street stores The Bookshelf and Twice-Told Tales have the books in stock and available for purchase.

          The books hold the themes of young adult literature which contain contemporary social issues.

          Shook said, “The club is about being able to have intergenerational discussions civilly.”

          For October, Project Lit Mac’s book is “The Benefits of Being an Octopus” by Anne Braden; it tells the story of seventh-grader Zoey, who has to deal with domestic violence in her home, taking care of younger siblings and finding her voice. On Oct. 22, author Anne Braden will be in McPherson, Kan., to visit with Project Mac Lit at the McPherson Public Library. Anyone is allowed to attend Project Lit Mac meetings and events as it is open to the community.