'All Spencer Reads' 2013 title announced

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Spencer Library announced the title for their second annual All Spencer Reads community reading program. The 2013 selection is "The Year of Goodbyes" by Debbie Levy.

"The Year of Goodbyes" tells the story of young Jutta Salzberg, a Jewish girl growing up in Germany in 1938. The Nazis were beginning to tighten their grasp in the area, and the Salzberg family was looking for a way out.

In her last year in Germany, Salzberg kept a posie album, an album for friends and family to write in, through little notes, poetry, or even sketches, so that Salzberg could remember them once her family left.

The 2013 selection for All Spencer Reads is "The Year of Goodbyes" by Debbie Levy. "The Year of Goodbyes" follows Levy's mother, Jutta Salzberg, as a young Jewish girl in the early years of Nazi Germany.

This posie album is the heart of "The Year of Goodbyes." Levy, Salzberg's daughter, included pieces of the album, alongside which she wrote in prose of her own.

"It's a short read, but it's fascinating," Spencer Librarian Robin Munson said.

Munson read potential selections throughout the past year, narrowing the list to three titles before approaching a committee for the final decision. The committee consisted of members of school librarians and interested members of the community.

"Because this is a community read, I wanted the community to pick the title," Munson said. "In all of our discussion, this book came up the most."

"The Year of Goodbyes" was chosen because of its availability to children as young as 10, though it is still appropriate for adult readers.

"I wanted an intergenerational read," Munson said. "Having a common subject, I'm hoping, will help to bridge a gap in conversation between children and older adults."

She added, "Everything gets so busy, it's hard to find time to just sit down and talk with each other."

Munson will be going into several classrooms to speak about the book.

"The Year of Goodbyes" focuses on the Holocaust, a sensitive subject, which Salzberg experienced first hand.

"It's a difficult topic to handle," Munson said. "But I believe we can tackle it together."

The library is also offering several programs in conjunction with the book. In addition to a discussion on the book, Salzberg and Levy will Skype in from their Maryland home to talk about the book and answer questions that readers have.

A read-a-thon will take place at Mae B coffee shop to read and listen to the book.

Mary Kay Shanley will come to speak about the importance of memories, through oral histories, storytelling and journaling.

For readers who aren't inclined to write, the library will have a photo scavenger hunt and reception.

"I would love if this book prompted conversations among families," Munson said.

Next year's All Spencer Reads is partially funded by Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The library will have 30 copies available, and will start programming for "The Year of Goodbyes" in January.

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