After Anoka County Library balks, St. Paul Library invites author to speak

  • Article by: SHANNON PRATHER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 22, 2013 - 1:56 PM

Rainbow Rowell, photo by Augusten Burroughs

Author Rainbow Rowell may have lost a chance to speak in Anoka last month, but she will be in St. Paul for two events next week.

After the controversy over her novel “Eleanor & Park” piqued interest in the book, St. Paul Library staff chose it for the library’s 2014 Read Brave program for teens and adults. In addition, Rowell was invited to speak at “A Community Forum on the Suppression of Young Adult Literature,” on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Metro State University in St. Paul. Next Wednesday, Oct. 30, Rowell will be at another event on Harriet Island.

The library also increased the number of copies it has in circulation from seven to 39. There’s still a waiting list 20 deep, said Marika Staloch, St. Paul Library youth services coordinator.

“Eleanor & Park” initially made the shortlist of books considered for the 2014 Read Brave program, but St. Paul librarians decided against it because it’s still only available in hardcover.

“When we heard what happened in Anoka, we decided to give it another look,” Staloch said. “We thought it had such a powerful message and this is good timing.

“I love it. I thought it was a very powerful book. I thought it was a sweet love story. It’s a nice way of addressing real issues facing teens without being preachy.”

St. Paul Library started the Read Brave program in 2013 to spark intergenerational conversations about a young adult novel. It’s a voluntary program involving schools, teachers, book clubs and individuals.

Staloch said the curse words and budding teen sexuality did not raise concerns with St. Paul Library staff who selected the book.

“We are not forcing kids to read it. We know parents have the ultimate say in what their kids are doing. This is completely voluntary,” she said. “I feel it was a very real depiction of what a teenager might be going through at that age. I didn’t think it was over the top.”

More information on the Read Brave program can be obtained by contacting Staloch at 651-266-7068 or marika.staloch@stpaul.gov.

• The forum on Tuesday, Oct. 29, will start at 6 p.m. in the Founder’s Hall Auditorium at Metro State University, 700 E. 7th St., St. Paul. Further information is available by calling 651-793-1614 or e-mailing library.ser vices@metrostate.edu.

• Rowell will discuss her novel at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island in St. Paul.

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