About Read Brave Saint Paul
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.
The Library has set an ambitious goal of distributing 5,000 books to the community before February 2019. The Library is on track to meet this goal with the support of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and Bremer Bank.
Read Brave Saint Paul will culminate in a visit to Saint Paul by Meg Medina, author of Burn Baby Burn, the 2019 Read Brave Saint Paul young adult fiction pick, from February 19-21, 2019. Between Fall 2018 and February 2019, the Library and community partners will host a series of events around the book selections and the housing theme.
Community groups in Saint Paul (including book clubs), can request free copies of Burn Baby Burn, Evicted, and the youth book selections, by completing these intake forms:
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. Learn more about previous years of Read Brave here.
2019 Book Selections
Young Adult Fiction Pick
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (2016)
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 (2016)
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.
Picture Books (Birth to K)
Shelter by Céline Claire (2017)
Kids Can Press
As a blizzard approaches, two brother bears seek shelter from the animals of the forest but are met with suspicion and distrust. Forced to find their own refuge from the snow, the brothers ultimately extend generosity to a fox family that previously turned them away. This gentle story challenges us to think about kindness - who gets it, and who doesn't - and question our beliefs about what we owe each other.
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting (2015)
Callie’s family can’t stay in their house and must move to a small apartment. While they host a yard sale to sell what won't fit in their new home, Callie struggles with watching people buy her family’s things. Her transition is challenging but ultimately hopeful in this moving, emotional story about the value of possessions and family.
Chapter Books (School Age)
Rich by Nikki Grimes (2009)
Best friends Dyamonde and Free are excited to learn about the library's poetry contest, and Free is determined to win. When they make friends with Damaris and learn she is embarrassed to live in a shelter, Dyamonde encourages her to submit a poem about her experiences. Straightforward and reassuring, this believable story highlights the stigma of homelessness and the power of friendship.
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (2015)
Feiwel and Friends
When Crenshaw, a giant invisible cat, comes to town, Jackson starts fearing the worst. Last time he saw Crenshaw, Jackson's family was living in their car. Jackson has noticed his parents arguing, and now they'e selling most of their belongings. Does this, along with Crenshaw's reappearance, mean they'll be homeless again? A middle-grade perspective shares a maturing boy's struggle with learning hard truths from his parents and himself.
“I want everyone in Saint Paul to ‘Read Brave,’” said Mayor Carter who recently proposed a $71 million investment in affordable housing to combat housing insecurity in the City. “We have brave decisions to make about housing in our community and that starts 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.” - Mayor Melvin Carter III
“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
Mayor Melvin Carter III introduces Read Brave Saint Paul at the Library's budget address on August 29, 2018.
Meg Medina introduces herself to Saint Paul.