Young Leadership Council - One Book One New Orleans

YLC Partnership

The YLC became interested in adult literacy when Michael Cowan, then Director of Lindy Boggs Literacy Center, did a presentation for them on the magnitude of the adult literacy problem in New Orleans in 2003.  They were inspired, determined and wanted to do something about it and came up with the One Book One New Orleans program.


We have partnered with them since its inception with Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines in 2004.  They have helped build awareness about the universality of reading and its important to our community for almost a decade.  We partner with them by distributing books to adult literacy program participants - for some of them it is the first book they have ever owned.  We design curricula to go with the book for programs and participate in the planning process with YLC extraordinary volunteers.


The mission of One Book One New Orleans, a campaign for literacy and community improvement, calls on residents in New Orleans to share the reading of the same book at the same time every fall.  For this project, the Young Leadership Council (YLC) partners with the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans, the New Orleans Public Libraries, and Shell.  


During a six-week reading period, One Book One New Orleans encourages citizens 16 years old and above to share a common experience of reading the same book at the same time, in the hope that people of different communities, backgrounds, and ages will come together to celebrate literacy.  Throuhg this shared reading experience, readers will be reminded of our city's unique literary contributions and the strength of our community.  As part of its efforts to build community around reading, One Book One New Orleans hosts several community-building events related to that year's book selection.  These events include:  organized book discussions, essay contests, author meet and greets, film screenings, art projects, networking events and more.  






The 2014 Selection- Unfathomable City:  New Orleans Atlas, by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker:  this book is a brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides vivid, complex look at the multi-faceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions.  More than 20 essays assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city's remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors' compelling contributions.  Featuring 22 full-color two-page-spread maps, Unfathomable City plumbs the depths of this major tourist destination, pivotol scene of American history and culture and, most recently, site of monumental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.  


The innovative maps' precision and specificity shift our notions of the Mississippi, the Caribbean, Mardi Gras, jazz, soils and trees, generational roots, and many other subjects, and expand our ideas of how any city is imagined and experienced.  Together with the inspired texts, they show New Orleans as both and imperiled city - by erosion, crime, corruption, and sea level rise - and an ageless city that lives in music as a form of cultural resistance.  Compact, lively, and completely original, Unfathomable City takes readers on a tour that will forever change the way they think about a place.  


The Books:  Previously selected books for One Book One New Orleans include:


“A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, 2004

“Rising Tide” by John M. Barry, 2005

“Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward” by Nine Time Social and Pleasure Club, 2007

“City of Refuge” by Tom Piazza, 2008

“Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at The New Orleans Table” by Sara Roehen, 2009

“Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans” by Louis Armstrong, 2010

“Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Life, and Death” by Dan Baum, 2011

“The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square” by Ned Sublette, 2012

“Louisiana“ by Erna Bordber, 2013

“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, 2014