Aldine Libraries Team Up With Gulf Coast Reads for October 2015 Reading Initiative

Aldine Libraries Team Up With Gulf Coast Reads for October 2015 Reading Initiative
Posted on 10/15/2015
The event turns reading into a social event. Word of mouth is the #1 way to recommend books.

Gulf Coast Reads: On the Same Page is a free annual regional reading initiative. It developed through collaboration between local libraries, educational institutions, museums, and bookstores. The goal is to create a culture of reading in communities. The initiative asks participants to read the same title during October. Organizers encourage readers to come together in book discussions. They encourage everyone to take part. GCR also encourages classrooms and libraries throughout the region to discuss the book.

The selected book captures The Great Storm of 1900 that hit Galveston Island.

This year, librarians across the Gulf Coast area selected The Promise by Ann Weisgarber. The book takes place in Galveston in 1900. This is the year of the historic storm that claimed the lives of thousands of people. Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the town of Dayton, Ohio, in the wake of a scandal. She agrees to marry an admirer from college, the recently widowed Oscar Williams. He has settled on a dairy farm on Galveston Island. Oscar’s housekeeper, Nan Ogden, struggles to suppress her feelings for Oscar. But when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women must combine forces just to survive.

The Sugar Land author wrote the novel to remember the dairy farmers, cattle ranchers, and fishermen. They along with their families lived on the rural part of the island.

Weisgarber researched for the book. Her story paints a picture of a beautiful and thriving port island. The book’s story begins in the days before the hurricane devastates the island. The Galveston hurricane became known as the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. More than 6,000 lives perished.

The GCR’s 2015 theme is “Building a Stronger Community One Page at a Time.” Aside from book discussion groups, participating libraries and other institutions have planned special programs. The book and its themes inspired events. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is conducting a book tour. The author has scheduled nearly 20 appearances across the region. Elaine Plotkin shared more upcoming events. Plotkin is one of the co-facilitators of Gulf Coast Reads. She is also with the Harris County Public Library System.

The Importance of Digging Deeper Into History

Information literacy specialists (ILs) Dorothy Allen and Miriam Thomas attended a couple of the GCR meetings in September. Allen and Thomas work at MacArthur Ninth Grade School and MacArthur High School, respectively. Both have read the book and researched the Galveston storm. Allen believes the book will appeal to high school students and adults.

As you read the book, you cant’ help but be curious about the historical period,” said Allen. “To prepare for book discussions and events in Aldine, we did research.

There are many stories but one of the most heart wrenching is the story of St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum. The 10 Sisters of Charity and 90 orphans died. Only three male children from the orphanage survived.

“As the waters rose, the sisters moved the children to the newer of the two buildings. They kept moving the children to higher levels in the building. To try and calm the children, the nuns had them sing the French hymn ‘Queen of the Waves.’

“With waters continuously rising, the sisters used rope to tie six to eight children to them. The waters lifted the orphanage from the ground. The bottom fell out. And the roof came crashing down trapping many underneath. Some older children scrambled to the roof.

One of the surviving boys remembered seeing a nun tightly holding on to two small children. Rescuers buried the nuns and children as they found them after the storm. They found one nun still holding on to two small children. It is an incredible story of courage and sacrifice.

Books like ‘The Promise’ can help us remember the past or take an interest to dig a little deeper into history. This can better help us understand people and literature.

Allen gave a great example. As individuals read the book they can share their thoughts during group discussion meetings. Allen and Thomas hope the historical value of the book will stimulate readers’ interest. They would like to see them dig a little deeper into history. This could include reading books about the storm. They could also look at historical images and newspaper articles. They can also simply discuss character development and the story’s plot.

Join the Aldine ISD book discussion on the Schoology forum.

Cindy Buchanan said staff and students should should check with the ILS at their campuses. Some have planned events or discussion groups. Individuals can also join the online book discussion going on in the Schoology forum. AISD staff can sign up on ePortal from the district website. Staff and people in the community can also contact Buchanan via email ( to get access. A free eBook of The Promise is available to access on ePortal by staff taking part in the initiative. Buchanan is program director of library media services.

I hope district and campus leaders along with teachers take part,” said Buchanan. “If students see participants enjoying the book, then they will likely be curious. They will see the book as something worth reading. In Aldine, we are working to create a strong reading culture.

The Importance of Instilling a Need to Read

Teens who choose to pick up a book for pleasure are more likely to succeed in life,” added Buchanan. “That is what the research shows us. How do you discover the joy of reading? It starts by finding amazing books. I think ‘The Promise’ is a great pick this year for the month-long reading initiative. Discussing a book is a great way to make reading fun. It is a great way to motivate yourself to read and to get deeper into a book. And it is a great way to get young and old interested in reading.

Read the book and join the discussion!

Visit InsideAldine to read the full article and video.