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Editorial: Library effort aims for lifelong reading journey

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On Saturday, author Lance Oliver will speak at the White River branch of Johnson County Public Library in Greenwood.

He wrote “The Ride So Far: Tales From A Motorcycling Life,” and his appearance will kick-start “Hit the Road, READ!,” a countywide reading initiative presented by all three of the county’s public library districts.

People of all ages will be encouraged to read one of three motorcycle-focused books, meet authors who have devoted their lives to motorcycles, do leather crafts and learn about bike safety.

“We just wanted to bring the county together to talk about literacy, bring us together as one community and enjoy reading,” said Amy Kitchen, spokeswoman for the Johnson County Public Library. “Motorcycles are a new twist and a fun focus. It’ll be the fall, and we thought this was a perfect time to do this.”

Organizers have picked three books that deal with motorcycling, one each for different reading levels. For older readers, they chose Oliver’s book. Teens can escape into the freedom of the road in John Green’s “Paper Towns,” while children will enjoy the hijinks of Beverly Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.”

“Our goal was to find something that would catch on every age group,” Kitchen said. “We wanted to find something that would meet everyone’s needs.”

While the libraries in Johnson County, Edinburgh and Greenwood have created individual reading events before, this is the first time the three districts have banded together to do something countywide. Kitchen, Greenwood director of development Jane Weisenbach and Edinburgh library director Cathy Hamm all worked to create a monthlong event.

Local motorcycle group American Bikers Aimed Towards Education and Indianapolis Southside Harley-Davidson helped fund and host certain events. A $3,000 grant from the Johnson County Community Foundation helped pay for appearances by two motorcycle-related authors, Oliver and Jean Davidson, granddaughter of one of the founders of Harley-Davidson.

This is an admirable endeavor, and the synergy of the three library systems working together should make it even more successful. In addition, the subject matter — motorcycles — might attract participants who otherwise might not take part.

Reading is a valuable skill and lifelong pastime. This kind of special emphasis might even reignite someone’s interest and prompt them to pick up a book.

We commend the libraries for this project. We hope the buzz it creates will approach a Harley’s almost trademark roar.

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