On June 27, The Book Club (TBC) welcomed Andrew Aydin, co-author of the March graphic novel series, as a special guest to their weekly discussion. Mr. Aydin, who co-authored March with Congressman John Lewis and Nate Powell, shared some of the challenges he experienced growing up as someone with a Muslim background who didn’t fit in with groups of either white or black kids. He also discussed how his mother, who raised him on her own, pushed him to develop fundamental skills like reading and writing that would always be valuable.
Mr. Aydin explained that as an adult, he wished to right the wrong he witnessed growing up and to share lessons to show what others had gone through. When he began working for Congressman Lewis, he realized that many young people were unfamiliar with the significance of the relatively recent Civil Rights Movement and he decided to produce a graphic novel that followed John Lewis’ experiences as a young civil rights activist.
One TBC member said that although he had met Congressman Lewis on a school field trip a few years earlier, he did not realize the significance of the Congressman’s work. Because of March, he now had a far greater understanding and appreciation for John Lewis’ civil rights work than he did from visiting his office on a class trip.
Before the weekly TBC meeting ended, Mr. Aydin surprised the members with copies of March signed by him and Congressman Lewis. TBC members and staff greatly appreciate Mr. Aydin’s contributions, both as an author and as a special guest.
In addition to March, TBC has read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and will also read Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. In addition to the signed March books, TBC members also received signed cards from authors Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds that Director Dawson got at the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual conference last month.
TBC is made possible through support from ALA’s Great Stories Club program and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework. TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. With funding from ALA and WKKF, the Alexandria Library and Sheriff’s Office organized TBC for young offenders between 18 and 21. TBC members receive selected books and journals for writing, and Library and Sheriff's staff facilitate weekly book club discussions and arrange for special guests.