Begun in 1998 in Seattle, Washington, the One Book concept was developed to build a sense of community while promoting literacy. In 2003, Allegheny County chose To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, as its first One Book, One Community. Prejudice and tolerance was the central theme, which intertwined in programming and discussions. The inaugural program was a success.
Building on that success, the 2004 committee selected Flowers for Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes, which focused on mental health awareness and its impact on the community.
The 2005 One Book selection was Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg unveiling a three-part theme: inter-generational friendship, personal empowerment and community connections.
The 2006 One Book selection was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, with themes including the risks and rewards of standing up for convictions, how communities can help empower individuals to do that, and how we can all support individuals who have been victimized. Fish by L.S. Matthews was selected as a parallel book for middle school and junior high students. With many parallel themes to The Kite Runner, Fish provided an experience for younger readers.
The 2007 One Book selection was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, with themes including love, family, and redemption found in the struggle with homelessness. Money Hungry by Sharon Flake was selected as a parallel book for middle school and junior high students. With many parallel themes to The Glass Castle, Money Hungry provides a comparable experience for younger readers.
The 2008 One Book selection was I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan with themes including mentorship and friendship demonstrating how Fred Rogers impacted people of all ages.
The 2009 One Book selection was The Giver by Lois Lowry with a futuristic theme that opened discuss on the future of our region.
The 2010 One Book selection was A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson underscored the importance of preserving our natural environment.
The 2011 One Book selection, 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker, featured the themes of civility and kindness in our daily lives.
The 2012 One Book selection, This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, encouraged readers to explore their core values and beliefs.
The 2013 One Book selection, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, promoted discussions of religious tolerance and cultural awareness.
Last year’s One Book selection, TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, an epic story that spans continents as well as centuries, featuring themes of history, identity, freedom, and empowerment.