About Read Brave Saint Paul

2019 Theme: Housing

Launching Fall 2018, Read Brave Saint Paul is a citywide, intergenerational reading program set around a common theme relevant to the city. The 2019 Read Brave theme is housing, a critical topic in Saint Paul where thousands of people struggle to afford housing

The city is faced with brave decisions to make about housing in our communities—decisions that start with deep conversations among our residents. When we all read the same books, we all have a common vocabulary, characters, and experience through which to engage in meaningful dialogue around challenging topics.

Read Brave is presented by the Saint Paul Public Library, City of Saint Paul, and The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Read Brave Saint Paul is generously sponsored by Bremer Bank.

2019 Book Selections

Burn Baby Burn

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina is the 2019 Read Brave Saint Paul primary book selection. Set in 1977 Queens, New York, it is a compelling, coming-of-age story about Nora Lopez, a Cuban American teenager, finding her place in a city where residents experience violence, racial tension, and housing insecurity.


Evicted by Matthew Desmond is the 2019 Read Brave nonfiction selection. A 2017 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, it follows eight Milwaukee families struggling to pay their rent around the 2008 financial crisis.

The Library is currently vetting the middle-grade read and picture book, which will be announced this fall.


Read Brave began as a one-book program led by the Library in partnership with local educators and community members. Since 2012, the Library has selected one young adult novel and distributed thousands of copies to students with the goal of encouraging intergenerational dialogue about thought-provoking, contemporary issues facing teens.

“Read Brave has been incredibly successful in the schools. Adults and teenagers have been able to come together to discuss challenging, real-life topics, using literature as a bridge. We want that model to unite all of Saint Paul—from our elders to our children—in dialogue around shared stories.”

- Catherine Penkert, Library Director

Community Programs

The Library and other partners will host Read Brave events from October through February when the program will culminate with a visit from Meg Medina, author of Burn Baby Burn.

Community partners—from local businesses and corporations to nonprofit organizations, book clubs, and residents—are strongly encouraged to plan their own Read Brave programs around the book selections and the theme of housing. Beginning in October, the Library will provide:

  • Downloadable partner kits, including programming ideas 
  • Marketing support on social media, via an email newsletter, and on SPPL’s website
  • Promotional materials like posters, bookmarks, and more

Interested in hosting your own Read Brave program? Fill out this form and register as a partner and request books >

Sponsored by

Read Brave is supported by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the Katherine B. Andersen Fund.