The Newton Public Library will offer a four-part book discussion series exploring the theme “Coming of Age in Rural America.” Members of the community are invited to attend the free programs, which will take place at the library, 720 N. Oak.
The series is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program. The Council’s Resource Center is furnishing the books and discussion leaders.
The first meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 29. Margy Stewart, professor emeritus of English, will lead a discussion of “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. While Laura Ingalls grew up in the little house on the prairie, Almanzo Wilder was living on a big farm in New York state. With chores from dawn to dinner, but plenty of time of fun, Almanzo’s childhood is a celebration of the self-sufficient family farm.
If America today is largely a country of city-dwellers, there’s no doubt our nation came of age on the family farm. The stories of growing up that comprise this reading series are interwoven with the story of American agriculture as it evolved from the self-sufficient homesteads of the 19th century to the large mechanized farms of today.
But while farming and its place in American society may be changing, the young heroes and heroines in these books discover their identity remains inseparably tied to family, land, and neighbors. Readers will find in these books a varied portrait of youth in rural America: at times nostalgic, at times painful, but full of wisdom and grace.
The series continues with “Nathan Coulter” by Wendell Berry (Sept. 26), “Under the Feet of Jesus” by Helena Maria Viramontes (Oct. 24), and “Good Land” by Bruce Bair (Nov. 14).
To check out books and for more information about the reading series, contact the library at 283-2890.