We suggest: 2021 Barbara Ballinger Lecture edition

By Collection Management Librarian Dontaná

Each fall we gather to celebrate and recognize former head librarian Barbara Ballinger and her many years of dedicated service to the library and to Oak Park.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, this year’s Barbara Ballinger Lecture features a virtual lecture and Q&A with author Michelle Kuo on Sunday, October 24 from 2 to 3:30 pm.

Kuo’s memoir, Reading With Patrick, discusses education, inequality, and incarceration, and asks, “What social transformation is necessary to change a life?”

Want more like Reading With Patrick? Check out these titles!

Color Me English: Migration & Belonging Before & After 9/11 by Caryl Phillips

Why you should try it: Both books explore the role race plays in formal and social education.

Description: A collection of the author's observations on race, culture, and belonging before and after the September 11 attacks discusses his childhood memories of a Muslim fellow student and his international research into colonial histories.

Find it in the catalog »

Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates

Why you should try it: Like Kuo, Bates developed a friendship with an incarcerated person that centered around books and authors, in this case, Shakespeare.

Description: Describes the work of an English professor who taught Shakespeare in a prison for ten years and became an important influence on one prisoner, Larry Newton, who is serving a life sentence without parole.

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Selected Poems by Rita Dove

Why you should try it: Kuo used Rita Dove's poetry to connect with her students.

Description: Here in one volume is a selection of the extraordinary poems of Rita Dove, who, as the nation's Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, brought poetry into the lives of millions of people. Precisely yet intensely felt, resonant with the voices of ordinary people, Rita Dove's Selected Poems is marked by lyric intensity and compassionate storytelling.

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Whitman: Complete Poetry & Collected Prose

Why you should try it: Patrick, the gentleman around whom Kuo has written her memoir, really connected with the works of Walt Whitman.

Description: The most comprehensive volume of Walt Whitman (1819-1892) ever published. It includes all of his poetry and what he considered his complete prose. This is also the only collection that includes, in exactly the form in which it appeared in 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass.

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Words No Bars Can Hold: Literacy Learning in Prison by Deborah Appleman

Why you should try it: This book is more of a case study and includes writings from the students with whom Appleman worked.

Description: The author documents her work teaching college-level literacy classes at a high-security prison for men and shows how postsecondary education, in general, and creative writing opportunities, in particular, can help reframe the personal narratives of the incarcerated, particularly those serving life sentences and those caught in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Find it in the catalog »


About Dontaná

Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.