Children's interest in reading declines by the age of nine according to the Scholastic 2019 Kids and Family Reading Report.
So having children and tweens/teens along with adults included in this year's One Book Westchester is a boost for county families.
The committee decided to offer three reading selections in order to target three different age groups, thus widening the appeal of the project and allowing for families to read together, said Assistant to the County Executive/Operations Roseanne Finizio.
The literacy initiative calls upon community members to read the same book. The books chosen by Westchester Library Systems librarians are ones written by local authors and focus on Westchester County's rich history.
The adult book selection is "Dear George, Dear Mary: A Novel of George Washington’s First Love, " by Mary Calvi of Yonkers. It's about George Washington’s relationship with New York heiress Mary Philipse, crafted from hundreds of letters, journal entries and witness accounts. Calvi is the former anchor for News 12 and is the morning and noon anchor for CBS-NY-TV news. She is married to Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.
The young adult/middle school novel elected is "The Night Diary" by Veera Hiranandani of Hastings. Written in diary form, the book tells the story of 12-year-old Nisha, who is fleeing India with her family in 1947 after the country becomes independent of British rule.
Elementary school author and illustrator Eric Velasquez of Hartsdale uses his beautifully drawn books to detail the immigrant experience. Many of his books are written in English and Spanish. His latest book, selected by the committee, is "Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library" by Carole Boston Weatherford.
"History lies hidden in every hometown just waiting to be discovered. One Book Westchester will allow us to explore together what for centuries has been buried. Romance, deception, and war – all of them taking place right here in our backyards," said Calvi.
The author said she always hoped the book "would reach as many people as possible and encourage young readers to be curious about their world and open to the differences around them."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, along with the Westchester Library System, The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and BOCES, announced the One Book Westchester literacy initiative Thursday, Nov. 21, at Yonkers Public Library Crestwood Branch.
Along with the community read there will be activities and events across Westchester in 2020.
"Our goal is to celebrate the diversity of our county, as well as its residents’ shared vision of a better life," said Finizio.
"We believe that people of many backgrounds and life experiences can connect through the act of shared reading. Exposure to different points of view, cultures, historical events, etc. can broaden a person’s outlook on life."
The three books targeting different age groups were offered to broaden the book read's appeal and allow families to read together, according to Finizio.
"I always hoped that "The Night Diary" would reach as many people as possible and encourage young readers to be curious about their world and open to the differences around them," said Hiranandani.
“I have always tried to provide my young readers with an up-close and personal view of people and places that they might not have had a chance to experience. One Book Westchester is giving me the opportunity to do that on a larger scale," said Velasquez.