Christina Baker Kline, author of The New York Times best-seller “Orphan Train,” will speak in Boise on March 9, but the array of local events celebrating her novel and its themes begins this week and stretches for nearly two months.
“Orphan Train” is this year’s pick for Read Me Treasure Valley, an Idaho Humanities Council-funded collaboration of Treasure Valley libraries, The Cabin, the Idaho Statesman and the West Ada School District.
With more than 2 million copies in print since its 2013 release and a movie in the works, the book already has widespread recognition, and Read Me’s 2016 schedule features 30 events from book discussions to railroad lore to contemporary programs to help children and families. The official kick off comes Tuesday morning at the Children’s Home Society in Boise with remarks from Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg, Associate State Librarian Marj Hooper and a representative of the Children’s Home Society of Idaho.
Programs explore the history behind the novel, including showings of two documentaries about orphan trains. From 1854 to 1929, an estimated 200,000 orphaned and abandoned children were uprooted from big-city life and sent by train to farming communities across the nation, including Idaho.
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“This year’s program truly offers something for everyone, including preschool storytimes on trains,” said Ada Community Library Director Mary DeWalt, who heads the Read Me project.. “We hope the two companion titles for younger readers — ‘Train to Somewhere’ and ‘Orphan Train Rider’ — and vast slate of events encourage all ages to become involved and families to participate together.”
The Treasure Valley community reading project now dubbed “Read Me” was launched in 2001 as “What If Everybody Read the Same Book?” Since then, the annual project has included the featured book’s author only about a half-dozen times, and DeWalt said Baker Kline’s participation is a highlight of the schedule.
Partnering with the West Ada School District is new this year, she said, and teachers helped select “Orphan Train.” The novel is part of a semester-long theme in the school district, “Migration and Immigration: Finding Your Home.”
The full calendar of events is featured on the Read Me Treasure Valley website.
Tuesday, Feb. 2: Learn about the Children’s Home Society’s connection to the history of the Orphan Train and celebrate the kick off of this year’s Read Me, 10:30 a.m., Children’s Home Society, 740 E. Warm Springs Ave.
Tuesday, Feb. 2: View “American Experience: The Orphan Trains,” 7 to 8:15 p.m., West Ada District Service Center, Sawtooth Room, 1303 E. Central Drive, Meridian
Thursday, Feb. 4: Idaho Reference Archivist Steve Barrett presents “Orphan Train History and Genealogy,” 7 to 8:30 p.m., Boise Public Library Marion Bingham Room, 715 S. Capitol Blvd.
Thursday, Feb. 18: Roger Sherman of the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund presents “Strengthening Families,” 6:30 p.m., Garden City Public Library, 6015 Glenwood St
Wednesday, Feb. 24: BSU history Professor John Bieter presents “America and The West During the Orphan Train Era.” 7 to 8:30 p.m., Boise Public Library Marion Bingham Room.
Tuesday, March 1: Nampa singer/songwriter Gary Eller presents “Idaho Train Songs,” 6:30 p.m., Ada Community Library Victory Branch, 10664 W. Victory Road
Wednesday, March 9: “An Evening with Christina Baker Kline,” 7 p.m., Centennial High School Performing Arts Center, 12400 W. McMillan Road. A reception for Kline will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Boise Depot.