Librarians at Brownell and Dorothy Alling Memorial Libraries (DAML) invite community members to share a story as part of their 2023 Vermont Reads Programming. Each year, The Vermont Humanities Council selects a Vermont Read to inspire community conversations. This year’s book, “The Most Costly Journey,” tells the stories of Vermont’s migrant workers, many of whom arrive from Latin America to work on our state’s dairy farms. Each story is told in participants’ own words and illustrated by New England cartoonists. The result is a collection of 19 stories describing various aspects of life as an immigrant farm worker in Vermont: crossing the southern border, struggling with English, adapting to winter, growing gardens, raising children, dealing with health crises, and working long hours.
“Reading is a powerful way to build empathy, to discover the ways we are similar, and to gain insight into experiences that we might not otherwise have,” says River West, Brownell Youth Librarian.
In that spirit, librarians at Brownell and DAML are hoping to collect community stories that connect with themes from this year’s book, including stories about finding ourselves in a new place or situation or stories about missing the places and people we’ve left behind. Anyone interested in sharing a story can stop by Brownell Library on February 4th, March 4th, April 1st, or May 13th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or email Bonnie@ to set up a recording time at DAML. Participants should bring a friend or family member to help ask questions and bring out details in the story. Brownell Library patrons can also check out a kit with instructions to record a story at home. Ultimately, teens will be invited to edit the stories and turn them into a podcast, which will be available on both libraries’ websites. damlvt.org
“We are really excited about this collaboration with Dorothy Alling and the intergenerational possibilities of this project. I can imagine families sitting down together to share stories at the dinner table or interviewing elders, and editing and hosting a podcast is a unique opportunity for teens interested in putting their creativity and tech skills to use,” says West. “I really hope people will try it out. It’s a short 5 to 10-minute recording and a chance to build community through shared stories.”
Programming around this year’s read, “The Most Costly Journey,” doesn’t end there. Brownell and DAML will be collaborating on a two-part DIY Comics Workshop with Marek Bennett, an artist featured in this year’s read and one of the book’s co-editors. These workshops will take place on February 17th, and 24th from 4:30–5:30 p.m. Participants can attend in person at either library or register to receive a virtual program link. There will also be a hybrid book discussion for both libraries on February 27th, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Participants can attend this program in person at DAML or register to receive the virtual program link. You can find more information about these programs under the Events Calendar on the Brownell Library’s website.