Saint Paul Public Library (SPPL) launched Read Brave 2023, a citywide, intergenerational reading initiative in its 10th year aimed at sparking conversation and new ideas that will move Saint Paul forward. Read Brave book selections—three by local authors—and book-based events for all ages will focus on this year’s theme of mental health.
"I am thrilled about this year’s Read Brave theme. Creating the space for open and honest conversations about mental health is so important for our young people," said Mayor Carter. "Please join us as we Read Brave in 2023 and focus on taking care of ourselves and each other."
The Read Brave book selections include reads for all ages, interests, and reading levels.
- Young Adult (YA) Fiction, Main Book Selection: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
- Adult Nonfiction: My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem (local author)
- Middle Reader (graphic novel): Living With Viola by Rosena Fung
- Early Reader: My Footprints by Bao Phi (local author)
- Picture Book: The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (local author)
"With Read Brave, we want to bring community members together to build empathy around an issue important to our Saint Paul community," said SPPL Interim Director Maureen Hartman. "This year’s books were selected to help us all have brave conversations across all ages about mental health."
In his debut novel, Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Khorram tells the story of Darius, a boy who navigates life with clinical depression. According to the publisher, "Darius speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes…"
SPPL distributed more than 5,000 copies of the Read Brave titles to classrooms and community groups throughout Saint Paul. The books are also available for check out at SPPL, including e-book and audiobook copies.
Expanding on the books, SPPL will host free events that are open to the public March 1-15 throughout libraries in Saint Paul. Events include the book discussion below as well as healing workshops, a storytime, and a community volunteering event taking place at libraries across Saint Paul.
"Read Brave Talk Brave" on March 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Rice Street Library: A conversation about reading brave with Adib Khorram, author of this year's feature Read Brave book Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Mayor Melvin Carter, and youth from People Incorporated. The discussion will be followed by a book signing.
Khorram will also visit select Saint Paul school classrooms. Author and illustrator of Living With Viola, Rosena Fung, will visit select Saint Paul classrooms virtually.
In addition to conversations about mental health and events at libraries across the city, SPPL invites community partners —local businesses and nonprofit organizations, schools, book clubs, and residents — to plan their own Read Brave events around the book selections and the theme of mental health. Additional resources are available at ReadBrave.org, and include a downloadable toolkit with a how-to for having brave book discussions, and more.
"Start a book club, join us for an event, or connect with your neighbors to talk openly about mental health," Hartman said.
Read Brave Saint Paul is brought to you by the Saint Paul Public Library and The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. This program is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, with special support from a Saint Paul Public School’s Community Partnership ARP Grant, and from The Saint Paul Saints.
For more information on Read Brave, visit ReadBrave.org.