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Celebrate African American Read-In Chain with the Library

Poets, musicians and performers will take the stage across the Springfield-Greene County Library District next week in celebration of the 21st National African American Read-In Chain – a first for Springfield.

Patrons can choose from more than 10 free events at various branches, from Storytimes for little ones, to poetry readings, to live jazz to podcasts with author Walter Dean Myers (3:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Republic Branch Library).

The national Read-In began in 1990 as a way to promote reading and literacy, celebrate African-American authors and build a community of readers. Since then, more than one million readers of all ethnic groups from 49 states, the West Indies and African countries have participated. The U.S. goal is to make the celebration of African-American literacy a traditional part of the February Black History Month activities.

After a small pilot in 2009 sponsored by Drury University, Springfield launched its first citywide Read-In this year. It’s a perfect fit for the library district, in partnership with the NAACP Springfield Branch, Drury, Missouri State University and Springfield Public Schools. The national sponsor is the National Council of Teachers of English.

“Springfield is blessed to have so many talented poets and performers, and we are excited to showcase them in this important event,” says Grace Jackson-Brown, chair of the local Read-In committee. She is an MSU library science assistant professor.

“The audience is sure to learn things about African-American heritage from this performance — and to thoroughly enjoy the evening as well.”

Most programs are planned Feb. 20 through 23; find all of them at thelibrary.org/programs, or see the print or online Bookends magazine. All events are free and open to all ages.

Don’t miss the theatrical program, “The Rhythm is Keeping Us Alive,” a commemoration of African-American heritage, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Library Center. Jon Herbert, theater arts instructor at Ozarks Technical Community College, will direct the performances.

Here’s a sample of others:

  • “Jazz on a Saturday Night,” featuring the music of the book by Leo and Diane Dillon, for all ages at 2 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Library Center; and at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Library Station.
  • Storytimes celebrating African-American authors at 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Republic Branch for ages 1 to 6; and at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Midtown Carnegie Branch for ages 2 to 6.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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