October 1, 2014

Medina
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Help sought to collect copies of book in effort against bullying

County libraries and the local United Way chapter are asking community members to help them get a copy of an inspirational children’s book into the hands of every sixth-grader in Medina County.

The novel, “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who was born with severe facial deformities. The boy begins public school after being homeschooled, resulting in him feeling ostracized because of how he looks.

"Wonder" by

“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio was chosen by the Medina County District Library for a “One Book, One Community” program, and has gained traction with help from the United Way of Medina County. The goal of the program is to get a copy of the book into the hands of every sixth-grader in the county, and to have every person in the county read the book. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Holly Camino, manager of Buckeye Library in York Township, said the story’s message focuses on the power of kindness and acceptance in lieu of bullying.

“Wonder” is the focus of the Medina County District Library’s “One Book, One Community” program. The goal, Camino said, is to get the book read by every person in Medina County.

“We all read it and decided it was (the) best pick because it’s relevant to what’s going on in our county regarding bullying and youth suicide,” she said.

Medina County officials have voiced concerns about the problem of teen suicides. A survey conducted in 2012 by Living Well Medina County indicated a fifth of the county’s high school students have “seriously considered suicide.”

“One Book, One Community” programs across the nation strive to get residents to share a particular book’s message, including reading the story and attending group discussions. Officials here are in talks to get the book’s author to speak over the summer.

Camino said the book program extends beyond sixth-graders, the reading level for “Wonder.”

“It’s relevant for anyone age 9 to 109,” she said. “We wanted a book that appeals to everybody, and this is definitely the book that does it.”

The last time the county had a similar program was about 12 years ago, Camino said, when libraries encouraged residents to read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Anyone interested in reading “Wonder” can take out a copy from any of the county’s libraries and can purchase a copy from any Project: LEARN location.

School districts countywide have added the book to summer reading lists, Camino said, and “Wonder” is being featured in library-sponsored book clubs.

She said when United Way of Medina County caught wind of the “Wonder” program, the agency’s leaders reached out.

Kelley Jones, United Way’s project coordinator, said the county agency is counting on community members to get enough books for all the students. In total, Jones said they’ll need 2,300 copies.

Jones said anyone interested in helping out can donate their own copies of the book at any of the county’s libraries — including the Wadsworth Library, which is not a member of the district library system but opted to join in the initiative.

Jones said additional copies will be purchased in bulk at a discounted rate. She said anyone who wants to help fund the bulk purchase or host a book drive should contact Jones at (330) 725-3926 or kjones@unitedwaymedina.org.

They can also visit the United Way’s website at www.unitedwaymedina.org.

Donated books will include stickers on the inside cover indicating who donated the books, Jones said.

The goal is to get the books collected by mid-April and distributed in May before school is out for the summer.

She said readers shouldn’t be disappointed, considering the story moved some at the United Way to tears.

“It should really inspire some dinner-table discussions about choosing to be kind,” Jones said. “That makes all the difference in the world, especially when a kid’s having a bad day.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.