A Book Group For the Whole Community!
Whatcom READS is a county-wide program that encourages everyone to read and discuss the same book. It is organized by all the public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and our community partner, Village Books. We receive significant funding from Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library Foundation, and support from other local businesses and organizations.
Each year, a new book is selected by Whatcom READS organizers. Community members are encouraged to read or listen to the book, share it with family, friends and neighbors, and participate in programs and special events that follow the book’s themes. Each series culminates with a visit by the author of the selected book, who makes numerous free-of-charge public presentations at locations throughout the county.
Whatcom READS operates in partnership through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a governing board that includes a representative from each partner organization.
How We Choose Each Year’s Book
This is the question we receive the most: How do we choose the book and author featured each year for Whatcom READS?
From our very beginning hosting Sherman Alexie in 2009, through all the books we’ve explored and authors we’ve hosted, our goal has been simple: creating an annual literary happening that gets people talking about great literature and sharing the joy of reading and discussing books.
Whatcom READS was modeled after the highly successful Seattle Reads program, which began in the late ’90s and became a national phenomenon. Communities large and small across the country now host similar programs to wide acclaim.
In 2008, Whatcom County Library System and Whatcom Community College each were awarded federal grants administered by the Washington State Library to help establish the Whatcom READS program. These libraries brought in other libraries as partners, as well as local businesses and other community organizations.
Our first community reading selection was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a funny, gritty and powerful book by Sherman Alexie. Since then, thanks to the dedication of our partners, the generosity of contributing business and organizations, and some really excellent visiting authors, we have become the premier literary series in our area.