Reading Together

What if the entire community read the same book at the same time? Read and discuss Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North with people of all walks of life.

Podcast: Discovering Kankakee

Reading about an author or artist is one sure way to gain insight into that person’s creative process, but hearing authors tell about their work in their own words often seems to add a new dimension to our understanding. With that in mind I headed out for a dog hike yesterday and quickly grabbed a couple of podcasts to listen to along the way. I was interested to learn more about Reading Together author Luis Alberto Urrea; here’s some of what I what I found.

One standout was an interesting interview with Urrea from January 2011 that was posted by the National Endowment for the Arts on its blog called “Art Works.” Interestingly, Urrea talks about getting to know the town of Kankakee, Illinois, (important in Into the Beautiful North) and his discovery of the public library there.

According to Urrea, the Kankakee Public Library had become the cultural centerpiece of a citywide revitalization project. “They made the library a highly computerized, safe open-late-at-night haven for kids go to, free of gang violence,” says Urrea. “It was an amazing turnaround of a town who figured it out on their own.” (The story, it seems, is not at all unlike the recent revitalization of downtown Kalamazoo, where our own world class library is a community centerpiece.) “This new public library has become the cultural hub of the city,” Urrea later wrote in the New York Times, “crucial to its downtown revitalization.”

It’s an interesting story; give it a listen. You can download a copy for yourself and/or read a transcript on the Art Works blog.

Art Works Podcast: Discovering Kankakee


Next time, I’ll share more findings about Into the Beautiful North; including a recent podcast recorded last November that includes some discussion with Urrea about his upcoming visit to Kalamazoo on March 6th. Stay tuned.


Art Works Podcast: Discovering Kankakee

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