Monday, September 16, 2019

By Elianna Novitch

The Building Community Reads Initiative will once again collaborate with One Community, One Book.


Lauren Markham

The Building Community Reads Initiative will once again pair with the UI College of Education’s Baker Teacher Leader Center and the UI Center for Human Rights to promote inclusion, collaboration, and building community through the One Community, One Book program.

The UI Center for Human Rights has selected author Lauren Markham’s novel, “The Far Away Brothers”, as the 2019 read. 

This year’s selection tells the story of identical twin brothers who are forced to leave their home in El Salvador under the brutal conditions of war and violence. They make their way to Oakland, California where they have to adjust to their new lives. Markham’s storytelling captures rich and nuanced insight into the migrant experience.

“The book is a powerful and accessible narrative of the migration experience of two young people from Central America seeking refuge and opportunity in the U.S.,” says Amy Weismann, assistant director of the UI Center for Human Rights. “It provides insight into the impact of U.S. immigration policy and the human rights implications of crossing borders.”

The College of Education is partnering with the One Community, One Book program in reading “The Far Away Brothers” as a part of the college's Global Community Education Initiatives that focus on internationalization because “the topic of the book is one that is relevant in every corner of the earth,” Will Coghill-Behrends, co-chair of the Building Community Reads Initiative and director of the Baker Teacher Leader Center, says.

Programming for the One Community, One Book program will include a visit from Lauren Markahm on Friday, October 4, from 7 to 8 p.m. at 240 Art Building West, 141 North Riverside Drive, as well as a series of community book discussions. 

Students, faculty, and staff at the College of Education can participate in this year’s Building Community Reads Initiative. A limited number of this year’s book are available for pick up at the reception desk inside  N110 Lindquist Center.

Coghill-Behrends says it’s important to engage in education collaboratively and that Building Community Reads Initiative partnerships with One Community, One Book promotes collaborative learning.

“We never do education in isolation, and so it goes that this collaboration helps us connect with our peers across campus and the community,” Coghill-Behrends says. “The topic of this year's pick is one that impacts and resonates in many of our 'systems' and so it's especially important for us to be in contact with others across the spectrum of services and touchpoint for individuals in our community.”

Visit Building Community Initiative for more information about Building Community Reads, or contact co-chairs Will Coghill-Behrends (, 319-335-5349) or Sherry Watt (, 319-335-5305).