ACES Bullock County Coordinator, Carla Elston and South Highland Middle Librarian, Ardrinnia Bell, display books donated to the school’s library by the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED), the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in celebration of Alabama’s 200th bicentennial birthday.  The collection of books were written either about Alabama or by Alabama authors.

TUSCALOOSA - As part of the three-year (2017 – 2019) celebration of Alabama’s 200th Bicentennial birthday, The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED), The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) join forces to roll-out the Bicentennial Bookshelf program in early October to schools within the Alabama Blackbelt.

ALABAMA 200 will engage residents and visitors in educational programs, community activities, and statewide initiatives that teach, inspire, and entertain.

Each of the three years of celebration has a theme: 2017 Exploring Our Places, 2018 Honoring Our People and 2019 Sharing Our Stories. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life in rural communities.

The three entities strive to help people and communities to improve their quality of life and economic well-being.

This new and exciting reading project is a collection of 13 books that are written about Alabama or by authors born and raised in Alabama. Many of the authors are award-winning “Southern” authors that share the passion of writing for children.

The books target middle school aged students to experience and explore Alabama. Sets of books will be placed in the libraries of schools within the thirteen counties that make up the Black Belt region by early October. This region includes: Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox Counties.

The assortment of books varies from historical, adventurous fiction, and science fiction. They were carefully chosen storylines that are full of fun, adventure, friendship and humor; and offer a fresh look at life and culture. Many of the books were inspired by the rich history of Alabama that includes unexpected adventure, mystery and suspense as well as some of the authors’ own childhood experiences while growing up in rural Alabama!

A listing of the books and authors that were delivered to the South Highland Middle School includes:

• 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham

• Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham

• Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

• Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai

• Insignia, Catalyst, and Vortex by S. J. Kincaid

• March Trilogy by John Lewis

• Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key

• The Falling Between Us by Ash Parsons

• The First Park Last by Angela Johnson

Today, Alabama's Black Belt includes some of the poorest counties in the United States. Along with high rates of poverty, declining populations and high unemployment, poor access to educational resources is a major concern for the future of K-12 students in this region.

Together, UACED, The University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies and ACES’ joint efforts will help to make a difference in the lives of countless young people within these 13 counties.

For more information about the book campaign please contact either Candace Johnson at 205-348-8338, Candace.C.Johnson@ua.edu or Carla Elston at 334-738-2580, cbe0003@auburn.edu.

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