Wilton Reads 2021

Students with books

Wilton Public Schools is immensely proud to partner with the Wilton Library on the Community Reads program.  The shared reading of one book drives deeper thinking about themes that matter.  This year, the topic is very timely and will provide us with another opportunity for members of our school community to have an honest conversation about race, social justice and equity.  The Wilton Library has selected Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Natasha Trethewey as the Community Reads title.  To support the selection, Wilton Public Schools will provide access to age-appropriate books, book talks, read-alouds and visits by four renowned authors including Jerry Craft, author of New Kid, Andrea Davis Pinkney, author of Let it Shine, Jewell Parker Rhodes, author of Black Brother, Black Brother and Vanessa Brantley-Newton, author of Just Like Me.  According to Fran Kompar, Director, Digital Learning “Wilton Reads 2021 will be Wilton Public Schools’ third consecutive year of partnering with Wilton Library Association, providing all members of our community, including our students, an opportunity to learn and discuss an important topic based on a common book. 

Our thanks go out to the PTAs for Cider Mill, Miller Driscoll, Middlebrook and Wilton High School for their generous support of this program.  Without their support, we would not be able to provide our students with such a rich experience including visits from well-known authors of the books we are highlighting. 

The partnership supports ongoing work that our teachers have undertaken under the guidance of Michael Gordon the district’s racial equity and inclusion chair.  Michael is part of our Community Reads task force and offers an important quote from The Children’s Community School: 

Young children notice and think about race. Adults often worry that talking about race will encourage racial bias in children, but the opposite is true. Silence about race reinforces racism by letting children draw their own conclusions based on what they see. Teachers and families can play a powerful role in helping children of all ages develop positive attitudes about race and diversity and skills to promote a more just future—but only if we talk about it! 

 Wilton Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Smith,  commenting on the importance of the collaboration between the Wilton Library and the school district says:  ‘I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Wilton Library on such an important topic.  The programming planned by the library and by the schools is rich and robust. Exploring the race relations and racism through the lenses of different authors and hearing different voices will provide our students and community members opportunities to develop keen insights and deepen empathy. Wilton Reads is a wonderful expression of our vision and mission and represents the very best of who we are as a community.’   

School by School Details of Wilton Reads follow: 

At Miller Driscoll second grade students will have the opportunity to hear author Vanessa Brantley-Newton read from her book Just Like Me.  The author visit at Miller Driscoll will take place on April 29th.  In addition, students at Miller-Driscoll will learn through stories and poetry about children from many different backgrounds and their life experiences. The students will also study authors and utilize technology like the Padlet and Flipgrid to share their ideas and deepen their understanding of the books they have read.  Students will participate in read-alouds and discussion about the important themes in books such as Hair Love and A Ride to Remember. 

At Cider Mill Newberry award winning author Jerry Craft will be visiting on April 1st. Students in 5th grade will have the opportunity to participate in a book club during April.  Check the website for dates and times.   The book club will take a deep dive into the book “New Kid” by Jerry Craft and will be led by Andrea Szabo of Wilton Library and Lisa Reilly, Cider Mill reading coach. 

In addition, all students at Cider Mill School will be treated to a visit and presentation by another award-winning author, Andrea Davis Pinkney on April 29th.  A Wilton native, Ms. Pinkney is excited to return to Wilton to talk to students about her books Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters and Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down and connect with students about her craft and the theme of her books. 

At Middlebrook the author Jewell Parker Rhodes will be paying a virtual visit on April 28th. Dr Rhodes’ will be reading from her 2020 novel ‘Black Brother, Black Brother’. Students will have the opportunity to submit questions to the author in advance. There will be a book giveaway lottery in advance of the author visit. 

All High School students will have the opportunity to engage with works by black authors during their English classes. 9th Graders will work with selections from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and 10th graders will experience John Vercher’s Three-Fifths.  The Community Reads title, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Natasha Trethewey, will be the common experience book for 11th and 12th grade students at the High School. Trethewey’s early lived experience was as a child with a white father and black mother, born when interracial marriage was still against the law in state of Mississippi. The book is a loving remembrance to her mother who was tragically murdered in 1985. It is an important story told in astonishing prose by a Pulitzer winning poet. Wilton Library is hosting a virtual author’s visit on April 15. 

A curated collection of books will be on display in each school Library Learning Commons (LLC) and accessible through each school’s website.  Details on all of Wilton Library’s programming can be found on their website.   The school district’s programming details may be found on the Wilton Public Schools Wilton Reads 2021 website.