The public libraries in Larchmont and Mamaroneck recently completed a successful and innovative Community Read.  During the entire month of October the program “One Book-One Mamaroneck” sought to unite the community through reading.  Hosted jointly by both Libraries, the program was the brainchild of Susan Riley, Director of the Mamaroneck Public Library and Laura Eckley, Director of the Larchmont Public Library.  The selected book, I AM MALALA: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, was the focus of over 20 events and numerous book groups. The events were aimed at bringing residents of Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Rye Neck into a common dialogue that was both thought provoking and educational.

A year in the planning, the month long initiative invited the numerous service organizations throughout the community of more than 33,000 residents to participate.  Over 20 organizations answered the call and planned programs around the book, while addressing their own organization’s focus.  Participating organizations included the Mamaroneck High School, the League of Women Voters, local Rotary Clubs, Girl Scouts, Senior Centers, local cable tv and a wide variety of additional groups.  Each program was unique and focused on one of the many themes highlighted in the book that spoke to their own organization’s mission; the empowerment of women, courage and bravery, peaceful resistance, international politics, the power of education, activism, and the role of fear in oppression.  The month culminated with an essay contest for High School students sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

A highlight of the program included a program held for students at the Mamaroneck High School by Judy Clain,  Editor in Chief at publisher Little, Brown and Company, who discussed working and traveling with Malala and her family.  Judy discussed what life is like today for Malala and her hopes for the future.  Judy also told the story of accompanying Malala and her father to an appearance on John Stewart’s Daily Show.  The high school students had many questions for Judy about Malala and her ongoing work.

The idea for “One Book-One Mamaroneck” began when Susan Riley, Director of the Mamaroneck Public Library, selected I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzi (Little, Brown: 2013), as the book to read. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one young girl chose to speak out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at the age of fifteen, she nearly paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school. Few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery took her on an extraordinary journey from the remote hill country of northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At seventeen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history.

The ONE BOOK – ONE MAMARONECK program celebrated the best of the human spirit with over 1,000 residents attending one of the programs.  The Libraries plan to continue hosting the Community Read on a biennial basis.

You can reach either of these library directors at their emails if you would like further information:

sriley@wlsmail.org, leckley@wlsmail.org