KUED is delighted to bring back Book Club in a Box, a packaged toolkit for book clubs throughout Utah. Book Club in a Box demonstrates that, much like literature, public television is also a vehicle for great storytelling.
Laura Durham, KUED’s community engagement manager, launched Book Club in a Box last year as a way to get people to watch and engage with PBS content. Durham said, “It’s been heartwarming reading the feedback that book club participants send in.”
Any book club host in Utah can register for Book Club in a Box, provided they send feedback to KUED. The boxes are free thanks to generous grants from Utah Humanities, the Bastian Foundation, and community partners.
Durham curated this year’s boxes to include documentaries produced by KUED. As Utah’s storyteller, KUED explores stories that resonate with Utahns. Paired together, the documentaries and books share common themes that have the power to teach, inspire, and open hearts and minds.
KUED worked with local scholars and experts throughout Utah to pair a documentary with a book of their choice, and to write discussion questions to facilitate relevant dialogue. The boxes include a copy of the book and documentary for the host, background materials, discussion questions, plus some extra surprises.
On the Spectrum is paired with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Discussion questions were written by Anne Holman, from The King’s English Bookshop.
The stories that come from On the Spectrum and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time deal with young people and autism. A key success factor for those with this diagnosis is often the people who care for them and teach them. In both the documentary and the book, these individuals have people who care for their basic needs. Holman said, “There are methods for helping those living with the disability to lead full lives. The difference between the people in the documentary and the book highlight some of these key factors.”
Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools is paired with Cheyenne Again by Eve Bunting. Discussion questions were written by Lorissa Jackson, a teacher at Monument Valley High School in Monument Valley, Utah.
This pairing reveals the stories of the off-reservation Federal Indian boarding school designed by General Richard H. Pratt, where children were assimilated with strict and often brutal punishment. Jackson said, “Both the documentary and book consider the questions: How did Federal Indian policies promote attitudes towards Native Americans? How did the assimilation practices impact today’s Native Americans?”
Martha Hughes Cannon is paired with The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Discussion questions were written by Naomi Watkins, education coordinator for Better Days 2020.
In Martha Hughes Cannon and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, remarkable women pushed against the established spheres and lived in worlds of contrast, evoking change despite having to navigate complex social, political, and religious structures. Watkins said, “These stories explore how the women’s rights movements impact us today, and how they influence our desire and ability to advocate for others and ourselves.”
Utah’s Freedom Riders is paired with Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. Discussion questions were written by Dr. Karen Johnson, associate professor of African American Studies at the University of Utah.
Both of these stories recall the era of segregation. The documentary tells the story of Utahns who contributed to the creation of a more just nation during the Civil Rights Movement. In the memoir, Anne Moody, a poor Black female who grew up in rural Mississippi dedicated her life to fighting against racial segregation. Johnson said, “The documentary and memoir, reveal how the actions of ordinary citizens helped transform U.S. politics and society, for the betterment of all.”
KUED is dedicated to engaging the community through great storytelling and also through projects that entertain, educate, and inspire. Durham said, “My hope is that this project facilitates meaningful conversations and opportunities for people to learn and grow.” Book Club in a Box is meant to make it easy for individuals to host a book club right in their own home. The box has everything a host needs to plan a successful gathering.
Visit kued.org/bookclub to register.