Read Brave Saint Paul 2019

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. Read Brave is supported by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund, the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation, and the Saint Paul Saints.

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.


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

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.


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.


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're 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.


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

Current Read Brave Saint Paul Partners

Questions? Contact us at

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Supported by

Read Brave is supported by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund, the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation, and the Saint Paul Saints.