Paterson’s ‘Bread and Roses, Too’ selected for Vermont Reads 2018

The Vermont Humanities Council has selected Vermont author Katherine Paterson's book Bread and Roses, Too as its Vermont Reads book for 2018.

Vermont Reads is a statewide one-book community reading program that began in 2003. VHC provides books for free to communities through an application process as well as resources for developing community book-related activities.

Since the beginning of the program, Vermont Reads events have taken place in more than 200 Vermont towns.

Bread and Roses, Too is a novel of historical fiction that tells the story of the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in the Lawrence, Mass., textile mills through the eyes of an Italian-American girl and a runaway boy. The novel relates the journey of Rosa, who, along with Jake and other children, are sent temporarily out of harm's way to foster families in Barre, Vt., as children actually were during the strike.

The book will allow communities to explore many topics, including the immigrant experience in America, labor history, and local Vermont history. The book takes its name from the strikers' banners in the story, which proclaim, “We want bread and roses, too.”

Paterson is an award-winning children's author and Vermont resident. She has published more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for Bridge to Terabithia in 1978 and Jacob Have I Loved in 1981. She also earned the National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer (1977) and The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979). She has received numerous other awards, and in 2000 the Library of Congress named her a Living Legend.

Bread and Roses, Too is the second of Paterson's books to be chosen for Vermont Reads; her novel The Day of the Pelican, about an Albanian refugee family who moves to Barre, was the Vermont Reads pick in 2010.

In Bread and Roses, Too Paterson tells a story rooted in an important historical event with Vermont ties.

“I'm always looking for something to write about,” Paterson told the VHC. “In the Aldrich Library in Barre, I saw this picture of all these children standing on the steps of the Old Labor Hall. The caption was, 'Children from the Lawrence strike come to Barre.' ... I had one of those writerly chills up and down the spine that said, 'There's a story here that needs to be uncovered.'”

Paterson looks forward to the kind of community enthusiasm and exchange of ideas with Bread and Roses, Too that was seen with her previous Vermont Reads book.

“[For] The Day of the Pelican, it was wonderful,” she said. “I went to a lot of immigrant communities; places where they would tell about their own experiences. I love that kind of sharing. I'm sure that if I go to different places, and talk about Bread and Roses, there will be people there who know the story better than I do in some ways.”

Vermont Reads brings people together in communities around the state to read, discuss, and build activities around the book - promoting community-building, open dialogue, inter-generational exchange, a focus on the humanities, and literacy.

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