As we enter a season of so many celebrations, JCLS invites you and your loved ones to celebrate with us by participating in the 3rd annual Rogue Reads Challenge, running from December 2022 through February 2023. Each winter, Jackson County library staff choose four books which center around a common theme and invite our community to read them with us. The books are carefully chosen with four ages of readers in mind — one for adults, one for teens, one for school-age children, and one for families to read with young children. This year, the common thread among the books is Music and Community. Participants can read any or all of the books, can attend library programs inspired by the books, and are encouraged to compare notes with others who have read them. Our hope is to inspire conversation across the generations about how music connects us to each other.

To make it even more fun, community members can track their reading and activities online via Beanstack or with a paper Rogue Reads Bingo Card. People who participate one of those ways will be entered into a drawing for one of our fun music-themed prizes:

  • An acoustic guitar and case
  • Four passes to the Britt Orchestra concert season
  • A $50 iTunes gift card
  • A basket full of goodies

There’s a lot planned, but the core of this community reading program is the books, and the folks in charge of the collections at JCLS have made sure that we have many copies of our selections in as many formats as possible. Do you prefer eBooks, audiobooks, or good, old-fashioned paper books? If those editions are out there, we have them for you. We’ve provided downloadable discussion guides to help readers put the books in context and think deeply about the information being shared and the stories being told, each centering in music and its power to build community and transform lives.

The title chosen for adults this season is Music is History by the multi-talented, multi-award-winning Questlove. In addition to his role as drummer and co-frontman for the hip-hop band The Roots (the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), Questlove is a DJ, musician, producer, filmmaker, music professor at NYU, and, of course, author. He was raised in a family of musicians and brings his perspective from a life immersed in music to his book, which explores the past 50 years of popular music and American history, digging into identity, race, gender, politics, and his own experience.  The Medford Library will host a screening of Questlove’s recent award-winning documentary, Summer of Soul, on Sunday, February 19th, at 1:00pm.

The teen title is If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth, a member of Eel Clan, enrolled Onondaga, born and raised in the Tuscarora Nation. He is an award-winning writer and visual artist who teaches college-level English. This Rogue Reads selection tells the story of Lewis, an indigenous teen boy in the 1970s who feels isolated as the only student from his reservation put into the advanced classes at the area high school, until he connects with a new kid over music. They bond over The Beatles and Queen until their new friendship is sorely tested by a bully who targets Lewis. You can register for a virtual author talk with Eric Gansworth that will take place on Tuesday, February 21st at 4:30 p.m.

The book for children in upper elementary and middle school is Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. Amina is a young Muslim-American girl, starting middle school and finding her way through the friendship and social adjustments that many people encounter at that age. Does she need to change or hide parts of herself to fit in? After her local mosque is vandalized, she finds a way to use her voice to bring diverse members of her community together. Register here for a virtual author talk with Hena Khan that you can attend from anywhere on Tuesday, January 17th at 11:00 a.m.

The picture book for families to read with their young children is Because, written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Amber Ren. Mo Willems is the beloved and prolific author of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and the Elephant and Piggie books, but he has also created several powerful titles in collaboration with other illustrators. Amber Ren has worked in animation, and this is her first picture book. It follows a child through her first exposure to live classical music, from which a spark of inspiration is lit and grows into a life in music. Children and families are invited to attend a live performance of Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony (featured in the book) by Rogue Valley Symphony at the Craterian Theater on Saturday, January 21st at 12:00pm.

For more information and resources, as well as to reserve copies of the books and see the countywide lineup of Rogue Reads events for all ages, visit the Rogue Reads page on the JCLS website. We’re excited to share what we have planned and connect with you this winter using the power of music.