Celebrating 20 Years: Silicon Valley Reads 2023 Focuses on a Journey to New Beginnings

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. -- For the last two decades, Silicon Valley Reads has brought people together with books and events centered on a focused theme that resonated with the community. This countywide reading engagement program will mark 20 years in 2023, with special programs at schools, libraries and local organizations. We will celebrate the anniversary and the kickoff of the 2023 season on Thursday, January 26, 2023 with an in-person and live-streamed author event including featured authors Tommy Orange, Amanda Skenandore and Kai Harris at the Visual & Performing Arts Center Theater at De Anza College in Cupertino.

Over the last two years, when the world experienced a global pandemic, Silicon Valley Reads gave people hope for the future with themes like “Connecting” and “The Power of Kindness, Resilience and Hope.” It has become clear that in 2023, the community is ready to move forward. For its 20th anniversary, Silicon Valley Reads will set off on a “Journey to New Beginnings.” 

“Silicon Valley Reads has enjoyed a dynamic journey since its inception in 2003,'' said Jennifer Weeks, Santa Clara County Library District’s County Librarian and one of the co-chairs of Silicon Valley Reads. She co-chairs alongside Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County Superintendent of Schools and Jill Bourne and Michelle Ornat, City of San José Library Director and Deputy Director, respectively. “We started as a one book, one community program in 2003 and over the years have broadened our scope to become more inclusive and reflective of the many communities that make up Silicon Valley.”

Dr. Mary Ann Dewan had thoughts on the long history of Silicon Valley Reads as well: “We have been honored to engage with and serve the community throughout the years. Author visits and special programs are highlights for the students in our county. Silicon Valley Reads helps to increase literacy and demonstrates the importance of books, writing, and conversation for schools, parents, children and the community. It’s been a great journey and we are excited about the future.”

The 2023 Journey to New Beginnings features three adult fiction titles:

There There by Tommy Orange

This wondrous novel follows 12 characters from Native communities who are all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, and are all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. This chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American--grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. Hailed as an instant classic, There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

There There won the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award, the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award “John Leonard Prize” and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. 

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she is exiled hundreds of miles from home to be detained at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. 

Based on the true story of continental America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century. 

What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris

Told from the perspective of 11-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB), this coming-of-age novel follows KB and her teenage sister, Nia, as they are sent to live with their estranged grandfather after the death of their father and the loss of their home. 

A dazzling and moving novel about family, identity, and race, What the Fireflies Knew reveals the heartbreaking but necessary component of growing up – the realization that loved ones can be flawed and that the “perfect family” we all dream of looks different up close. 

“These three novels each feature unique journeys that act as mirrors or windows for our diverse community,” said Jill Bourne. “Some people may relate to the plight of the characters, and others will glean insight into unique perspectives. It’s wonderful to have this depth of options for our readers.”

Silicon Valley Reads is also announcing the selection of four companion books for youth that each share a journey to a new beginning:

In addition to the January 26th kickoff event, we invite the public to dozens of free programs for all ages through March. These events include author talks, panel discussions, educational events, demonstrations, performances, adult classes, activities for students, story times and an in-person art show. The complete schedule of events will be published in early January on the SiliconValleyReads.org website. Responding to attendee feedback from the past two years, Silicon Valley Reads will continue to offer some virtual options in 2023.

The Silicon Valley Reads community engagement program is presented annually by Santa Clara County Library District, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and San José Public Library in conjunction with other public libraries, community colleges and universities, and community organizations. 

More information about Silicon Valley Reads and plans for 2023 can be found at SiliconValleyReads.org.


Silicon Valley Reads 2023: Journey to New Beginnings

 








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