Gadsden Reads: The Shawl

Gadsden Reads: The Shawl
Advanced Imaging
The Gadsden Times
Gadsden Public Library
Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts
Temple Beth Israel

Gadsden Reads is sponsored by Advanced Imaging of Gadsden and The Gadsden Times. It is a project of the Gadsden Public Library, Gadsden State Community College, and the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts.

This year's project partner is Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood.




Gadsden Reads “The Shawl”

They are doing it in big cities like Denver and New Orleans. They are doing it in small towns like Columbia, Tennessee and Hagerstown, Maryland. And they are doing it right here in Gadsden, Alabama. People are reading. Not just reading, they are reading with a purpose.

As part of Big Read, the local partnership known as Gadsden Reads is launching a new initiative. Gadsden Reads is a program sponsored by the Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden State Community College and the Gadsden Public Library. The Big Read is nation-wide campaign spearheaded by the National Endowment for the Arts and is designed to restore reading to the center of our culture.

Each participating community can choose from a selection of featured books and can utilize the available resources from the NEA. Previous Big Reads in Gadsden have included “Big Fish” by Daniel Wallace and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

 “The Shawl” by New York City author Cynthia Ozick is this year’s selection by the Gadsden Reads committee. Set in the historical context of the Nazi death camps, “The Shawl” is a fictional account of the struggles and heartbreak of one woman and her niece who both survive the death camp but are forever scarred by the experience.

Student Ambassadors
Local high school students took an active role in the Big Read by entering the competition for student ambassadors. The Gadsden Reads program selected one student from each local high school to receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The students will serve as campus leaders for book discussions and events at their schools.

Click here for a listing of all selected Student Ambassadors and their projects

The Student Ambassadors and their parents will have an informal meeting on Sunday, December 7, at 3 p.m. at Temple Beth Israel. The Ambassadors will meet at the Gadsden Public Libary on Tuesday, December 9, and at the Hardin Center on Wednesday, December 17. Both meetings will begin at 4 p.m.

Teacher Training
Area teachers interested in participating in Gadsden Reads “The Shawl,” are encouraged to attend a teacher training class on October 9th at 6:00 p.m. They can receive information about lesson plans and additional resources.  Area educators are encouraged to come enjoy a free night of tolerance education and networking.  Learn about exciting tolerance events coming to Gadsden in 2009 and some great opportunities for your students and your classroom.  A few lucky high school students will be heading to DC for a life changing trip, all expenses paid, this January and hundreds of dollars will be won by several students (and their classrooms) in 2009.  Be the first to find out how it can happen for someone in your classroom.

The workshop will be led by Tim Lockette of Teaching Tolerance;  Teachers will have the opportunity to view the high quality teaching kits they offer and find out how to order your own (for free!).  If you have never worked with their materials before you will be amazed at the quality.  You cannot buy better teaching materials than the ones gives away for free.  They work well with the need to meet curriculum standards and are easy to use.  They have developmentally appropriate materials from early elementary all the way to high school, and their topics include everything from civil rights history to conflict resolution.

Workshop options:

"Tools for Teaching Tolerance"  with Tim Lockette of

“Building Community in Your Classroom”  with Mickey Barrett and Hilary Blackwood

If you are interested in attending please contact Imagination Place Director Mickey Barrett, (256) 543-2787, ext. 23 or .

Churches Invited to Participate
Seventy years ago the evening of November 9th and the following day were an especially brutal time during the Nazi campaign against the Jews. The event, which came to be known as Kristallnacht or The Night of Broken Glass, was a coordinated attack on Jewish stores and synagogues all across Germany, Austria and other areas of German control. Store windows were broken, merchandise was destroyed. Synagogues were vandalized and burned.

As part of the tolerance lesson and holocaust education, area churches are encouraged to participate. They can receive a Kristallnacht program, Temple Beth Israel sisterhood assistance for an authentic Jewish Seder, and/or book discussions at church. Church leaders can contact Bobby Welch at (256) 543-2787, ext. 26 or to discuss participation.

Click here for a letter to clergy.

More events are planned for February, March and April. To learn more about “The Shawl” and other Big Read featured books, visit .


The Big Read
Southern Poverty Law Center
Anti-Defamation League


Holocaust Survivor Cook Book