Tag Archives: community

Inspiring Community Involvement with Outcasts United

Warren St. John displays a copy of Outcasts United marked up by an engaged UNF freshman

For the past two years, the University of North Florida has used Outcasts United as their freshmen Common Reading title.  While many professors have integrated Outcasts United into their curriculum – leadership classes, for example, discuss the book from a leadership standpoint –  UNF’s Common Reading program, lead by Professor Leslie Kaplan, has used the book as a catalyst to establish meaningful relationships with several local refugee resettlement agencies.  Over 1,000 UNF students currently help refugees establish better lives in the U.S.

Through resettlement organizations such as World Relief, Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities, UNF students currently assist in English classes, mentor families, set up apartments and collect food.  UNF’s most extensive program is through the Honors Program’s Freshman Colloquium class.  Sixty honors freshmen act as mentors to families, meet weekly with children to help with homework, study english, and adjust to American traditions.  Furthermore, all children in the program are invited to UNF for trick-or-treating during Halloween, and for turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.  A final assignment involves students creating a documentary film of the project.  Stay tuned for other ways Outcasts United inspires  social responsibility…

To view the University of Northern Common Reads page please visit: http://www.unf.edu/unfreads/Fall_2012_Selection.aspx

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Which Common Reading Book Best Suits You?

Common Reads has just launched our new book personality quiz! Does your school or library have a common reading program? Take this fun, interactive, and free quiz to find out which book best fits your community.

Click here to take the quiz and find out “Which Common Reading Book Best Suits You.” We’d love to have you share your results and let us know what you think of your match!

  • Special launch offer: Common Reads is offering a limited-time FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY to the first five people to comment here on this blog post and include:
  1. The book title you were matched with
  2. What you think of your match and/or how you might incorporate the themes of the book to your common reading program
  3. E-mail your street address for shipping to: rhacademic@randomhouse.com

The first five individuals to respond will receive a confirmation email and a free copy of the book they were matched with through the quiz. Full rules of the giveaway are provided below. Continue reading


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Montana State U. Students Use The Last Town on Earth to Reach Out to Women in Prison

Author Thomas Mullen’s book, The Last Town on Earth, was adopted last year as common reading for all incoming freshmen at Montana State University – Billings. Mullen had hoped that his book, which deals with important topics such as morality, making difficult choices, overcoming fear of the unknown, and hope for a better future, would relate fittingly to the lives of undergraduate students who face similar challenges – what he hadn’t imagined was that his story would find even more common-ground with the women incarcerated at Passages, a correctional institution just one mile from the MSUB campus.

Two instructors from MSUB offered a course in 2010 that included a Service Learning Project – students of the course would examine The Last Town on Earth in a joint book club with Passages residents. The main theme of “community” within both the novel as well as the book club begged the question from each woman, “what is community?”.

The learning and friendship that developed between the students and the residents of Passages, all stemming from discussion of Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth, was largely captured on camera by a small film crew that was making a documentary for an MSUB communications class – and it’s one that’s worth checking out: http://www.spotlightads.com/Demos/msub_passages.html

The project also included a visit to Passages by Mullen himself, where he met and spoke with the women of the correctional institution back in December of last year. To hear Mullen’s own account of his experience discussing The Last Town on Earth with Passages residents, check out his blog post on “My First Prison Book Club.”

So much chance and inspiration sprung out of what first started as a First Year Experience reading choice in snowy Billings, Montana, and grew into an entirely different and unforeseen community experience in a women’s prison. Just goes to show that the message of one book can cross borders in the most unexpected and terrific ways.


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