Civil War-era book is the focus of reading effort

July 15, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - There are 12 voices in the fictional retelling "Bull Run," and organizers of a community-wide reading program hope at least one will resonate with each Chambersburg resident.

"Chambersburg Reads ..." will kick off Saturday at the annual Celebrate! The Arts at Old Market Day with readings of the Civil War-era book.

The four-month reading program is modeled after similar efforts across the country and aims to promote literacy and unite Chambersburg-area residents by reading the same book, said Cindy Keller, library supervisor for the Chambersburg Area School District and chairman of the committee that organized the program.


"Anytime we can get people involved in the arts and reading, it is important to open different avenues and explore them," she said.

Several community groups, including the Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts, the Chambersburg Area School District, Downtown Chambersburg Inc., the Franklin County Literacy Council and others, partnered to get the program off the ground.

"Literature is an art form that we don't often get to support," said Anne Finucane of the arts council. "This is a public forum for celebrating reading."

The 104-page work by Paul Fleischman is geared toward teens and adults and tells the tale of the Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Va., from the viewpoint of a dozen participants.

From a young drummer boy, a nurse and a wife, to both Northern and Southern soldiers, organizers of "Chambersburg Reads ..." expect the community will sympathize with and be intrigued by the characters.

"We didn't want something too difficult or easy," Finucane said. "This is unique in its appeal to adults and youths."

The Civil War is also always a hot topic in this region, where Chambersburg was known as a stop on the Underground Railroad and as the only northern town burned during the war, she said.

Each chapter is short - no more than two pages - which Keller thinks will make it easier for adults and children to read.

Schoolchildren too young to read the book will do other Civil War-related activities in school this fall, Keller said.

But the first public reading event will be Saturday, when the Conococheague Players read several chapters from "Bull Run" at 2 p.m. at the Coyle Free Library in Chambersburg.

Events will continue throughout the summer and fall.

The Conococheague Players will again read selected chapters on Sept. 26 at First United Methodist Church and on Oct. 11 at a TGIF event at the First Lutheran Church.

The reading program ends Nov. 2, with a Civil War Connections seminar featuring more readings from the book.

Keller said she didn't know what the community response will be, but she said she hopes to bring it back in the future with a different book.

Copies of "Bull Run" are available at area bookstores and libraries, including Border's Books in Hagerstown; and Coyle Free Library, Mason's Rare and Used Books, Northwood Books, Ragged Edge Library, Twice Read Books and Waldenbooks, all in Chambersburg.

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