Reading is one of my great pleasures, and I love finding new books — fiction or nonfiction — that help broaden my perspective and provide a glimpse into life experiences and views that may be different from my own. That might be why I look forward to Pikes Peak Library District’s community reading program, All Pikes Peak Reads, each fall.

The annual program, which runs from September through November, focuses on celebrating literature, improving community connections, and fostering dialogue across social, cultural and generational lines.

This year’s selected books explore themes of hope, finding community and friendship, how we view those who are different than us, and how some members of society are (mis)treated. I hope you’ll join me by reading one or more of these titles, all of which are available for checkout in PPLD’s physical and digital collections.

Both of the 2021 adult selections are award-winning books with close ties to the Pikes Peak region and focus on important topics like race, language, mental health and the meaning of family. “Finna” by Nate Marshall is a collection of poetry chosen in partnership with Colorado College’s English department to encourage conversation about how we use and change language to reflect and find community as well as to inspire young people to explore the art of poetry to tell their stories. (The word finna, coined by the local author, is also now officially in the Oxford English Dictionary.) “Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family” by Robert Kolker, a nonfiction family saga and medical mystery, was selected due to its local connection to the Colorado Springs community, its exploration of mental illness and associated stigmas, and its ability to shed new light on schizophrenia and its treatments.

“Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson is this year’s young adult title for All Pikes Peak Reads due to its themes of finding community in unlikely places, enduring friendship, and exploration of how we treat those in our community who we see as different. Plus, it’s witty and full of nemeses, dragons, science and symbolism.

The 2021 children’s title is “Indian No More” by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell. Geared towards third to sixth graders, this historical fiction book demonstrates appreciation and understanding for heritage, along with finding community where ever you may live.

If you want to do more than reading, you can participate in one of our All Pikes Peak Reads events this fall. We’ll host a poetry reading and meet-and-greet with local author and educator Nate Marshall from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24 at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. There’s also a Q&A event with the “Finna” author from 7 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 21, at Library 21c. Plus, Colorado College’s Mobile Arts Truck will visit a few of our libraries with opportunities for on-site poetry readings and short poetry workshops, along with PPLD poetry craft kits that you can take home. Both Robert Kolker and Traci Sorell will join us for virtual author visits on Thursday, Oct. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 2 respectively.

Learn more about All Pikes Peak Reads, including the selected titles and upcoming activities, at ppld.org/appr. Let’s expand our horizons together through the Library District’s annual community reading program.

Michelle Ray is chief communications officer for Pikes Peak Library District. Besides reading and touting all that the Library offers, the Kentucky native enjoys spending time with her husband, stepchildren and pets, plus hiking, paddling and volunteering. She can be reached at mray@ppld.org or by calling 719-531-6333, ext. 6401.

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