Dr. Richard Katzman of Waterbury, Bridgeside Books owner Hiata Defeo, Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Principal Tom Drake and Crossett Brook Middle School librarian Jen Hill are launching a new program for kids of all ages in the Harwood Unified Union School District. The Bridge Over Troubled Water Project will begin on June 15 and culminate as 2020 draws to a close with the publication of student writing and art. Young people attending private, public or home school are invited to participate.
The theme of the project is “How we act and feel in difficult times.” It is about challenge and resilience, success and failure, courage and despair. Students will have a chance to read a book that relates to this theme in some way and then create reflections from their reading and their own experience. Prose, poetry and artwork are all welcome. Fiction or nonfiction, books from home, from a selection available at or special ordered by Bridgeside Books at no cost to participants (and for them to keep) or borrowed from a library are all fine.
Bridgeside Books will have available the following selection for the project. If students are interested in a different book, they will get it, usually in less than a week.
For older readers: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson, looking back on childhood; “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, novel and graphic about finding your voice; “Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, in Nazi Germany find comfort in words; “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, family and friendship in Afghanistan; “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London, courage and survival in Alaska; “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, hard times in the Dust Bowl.
For middle readers: “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (young adult version), true survival plane crash; “Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, true story enduring hardships; “Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba, true enterprising teen; “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen, survive alone in the wilderness; “El Deafo” by Cece Bell, graphic memoir living with deafness; “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper, growing up a brilliant mind trapped in a body;
“Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” by Dusti Bowling, sarcasm, struggle; “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson, a poem memoir of childhood.
For younger readers: “The Day you Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson, power of your voice and friendship; “The Dot” by Peter Reynolds, discover talent; “Tomorrow I'll be Brave” by Jessica Hische, fantastic journey with opportunities; “Jabari Jumps” by Gaia Cornwall, courage to take a big, important leap.
Student submissions will be due by September 1. Details on how to submit will be sent in August. HUUSD faculty will review the collection before formatting the efforts of participating writers and artists into a publication which will include the work of elementary, middle and high school students and which should be available for the holidays by November 1.
Those interested in participating, even if they do not need a book from Bridgeside Books are asked to go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmWU4xTSCINpfw0JPhdcHZkt5fddwLt-AM20YiaRnJrhS3NQ/viewform and fill out the form by June 15. They plan to have books ready to distribute to everyone by July 1. Katzman can be reached at 802-793-3661 or