Event celebrates community reading

OCEANSIDE — What do a rock ‘n’ roll performance, a documentary surf film and Vietnam War photos have in common? They are all part of The Big Read program at Oceanside Public Library that focuses on the short story collection, “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien.
The idea behind The Big Read program in libraries across the United States is to involve a community of readers in a book.
“The Things They Carried,” is a book of short stories about the Vietnam War and the resilience of the human spirit. “We picked a book that would connect with the community,” Deborah Polick, library director, said.
The level of writing also influenced the book selection. “The book is so well- crafted, every word is perfect,” Polick said.
In addition to book discussions there are six weeks of events centered on the book. “Events involve all the arts — theater, music, film, photography,” Polick said. “So many groups and individuals have taken it on.“
The Oceanside Historical Society, Camp Pendleton Historical Society, Sunshine Brooks Theatre, Oceanside Museum of Art, California Surf Museum and School of Rock are among the organizations that have come together to create a backdrop for The Big Read book with photos, a film, artifacts, art and music from the Vietnam War era.
A photo exhibit of Vietnam refugees at Camp Pendleton is on display at the Ranch House located on Camp Pendleton through September. Authentic military packs and equipment,
on loan from veterans, are currently on display at
the library. “Involving veterans is so rewarding,” Polick said.
On April 24, youth performers from School of Rock house band played 1960s rock ‘n’ roll tunes in the library Community Room. “The music has substance,” Tom Mitchell, music director at School of Rock, said.
“I love the music,” said the group’s lead singer, 13-year-old Peterson. “It’s psychedelic all the way, with peace aspects there of peace and happiness.” Maxwell said the music helps him connect with a time period he did not live through.
The surf documentary film “Between the Lines,” showed at Sunshine Brooks Theatre on April 24. “The film shows both sides of war,” Polick said. “There was a lot of integral conflict over it.”
Big Read events include a trench art exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art, which opens May 1, and a panel discussion on how to write a war story, with noted authors Sue Diaz, Eric Blehm and J. Stryker Meyer on May 22 at the Council Chambers. “We’re just getting started and looking for momentum to build as we go forward,” Polick said.
In addition to events geared toward adults, there is also a Little Read program that explores kid-appropriate themes of the book. “Kids will be writing letters to servicemen and servicewomen overseas and learning about Vietnamese culture,” Polick said.
Big Read book discussions and events run through May 29.

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