As outrage, protests, and marches continue to shake our nation in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and others, we encourage our community – adults, children, and teens – to elevate, amplify and support Black voices. To that end, York Public Library has launched a special, ongoing reading challenge for all ages in Beanstack (the online home of YPL’s 2020 Summer Reading Challenge): The Read Woke Challenge.
Woke (slang): Aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice) Source: Merriam-Webster
The Read Woke Challenge was created by Cicely Lewis, a teacher, writer, librarian and Person of Color with a “passion for promoting literacy in nontraditional ways” at the Meadowcreek High School Media Center in Norcross, Ga., where she works. She was recently chosen as School Library Journal’s 2020 School Librarian of the Year.
If you have not yet signed up for YPL’s Summer Reading Challenge on Beanstack, do. Record it in your Beanstack account for the chance to win fabulous prizes – and, while you’re there, register for the Read Woke Challenge. There is a link to it on our homepage, or you can sign up at Beanstack.
In the Read Woke Challenge, readers earn badges for completing books written by authors of various marginalized communities. The library will focus on one disenfranchised group each month, suggesting reads of all genres that educate about the experience of that particular community. We invite you to follow along with a book of your choosing each month, or read at your own pace, and proceed in any order you like. The book doesn’t need to be from one of the lists we share; simply log your Woke reads in Beanstack to earn badges that signify your commitment to exploring books with viewpoints and voices that differ from your own.
What makes a book “woke”? Cicely Lewis determined that a Woke Book must:
- Challenge a social norm;
- Give voice to the voiceless;
- Provide information about a group that has been disenfranchised;
- Seek to challenge the status quo;
- Have a protagonist from an underrepresented or oppressed group.
In Lewis’ words: “Read Woke is a movement. It is a feeling. It is a style. It is a form of education. It is a call to action; it is our right as lifelong learners. It means arming yourself with knowledge in order to better protect your rights. Knowledge is power and no one can take it away. It means learning about others so that you can treat people with the respect and dignity that they deserve no matter their religion, race, creed, or color.”
Unlike our Summer Reading program, Read Woke will be a year-round Challenge – and, we hope, a lifelong habit for our patrons, our community, and country.
You can register for the READ WOKE Challenge, peruse the different Activity Badges you’ll earn, and get suggested reading from your Beanstack dashboard. July’s focus is African American Voices, followed by Asian American Voices in August. Read more about the Challenge.