TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development has partnered with the UA School of Library and Information Studies and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to provide an assortment of books that promote Alabama’s rich literary history to schools in the Black Belt region as part of the state’s bicentennial celebration.
The Bicentennial Bookshelf program brought together staff from the UACED and UA School of Library and Information Studies to select books about Alabama history or books written by authors born and raised in the state.
The books were donated to the libraries of schools in the 13 counties that make up the Black Belt region, which serve around 10,000 children.
“UACED was excited to connect the students with resources that were inspired by the rich history of Alabama that included unexpected adventure, mystery and suspense as well as some of the author’s own childhood experiences while growing up in rural Alabama,” said Candace Johnson, tourism and community development director with UACED.
“It is our hope that the children relate to the characters and an increased love of reading may come out of this project or at least the curiosity to explore some of what Alabama has to offer.”
The books target middle school students and vary from historical, adventurous fiction and science fiction. Sets of the selected books will be prominently displayed in libraries as the new school year gets underway.
Books selected for the Bicentennial Bookshelf include “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey,” by Kathryn Tucker Windham, “Can I Touch Your Hair?” by Irene Latham and “Gone Crazy in Alabama,” by Rita Williams-Garcia, among others.
Alabama’s Black Belt, named for its dark, rich soil, includes some of the poorest counties in the nation. Along with high rates of poverty, declining populations and high unemployment, access to educational resources is a major concern for the future of K-12 students in the region, which include Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox Counties.
Together, UACED, the UA School of Library and Information Studies and ACES’ joint efforts are making a difference in the lives of young people within these counties.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.