Food is a universally loved and cherished part of any and every community. Regardless of our backgrounds or uniqueness as individuals, food is something that has the ability to bring us all together. Food can be a way to share our culture, and family backgrounds, and also be a way of storytelling. Can you think of a dish that your family uniquely makes each holiday or family get-together that shares a glimpse of your family history? There are two things that have a unique power to bring people all together – food and storytelling. When you put food and storytelling together, you can find a story about how food can unite people and build bonds and connections that fill one's heart and stomach!
Harris County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program’s 2023 theme is All Together Now. A challenge HCPL is incentivizing patrons participating in Summer Reading Program to take on is to read books about people coming together to eat food. Below are a few books about building connections through food that I think are worthwhile reads this summer:
- Relish by Lucy Knisley: This YA Graphic Novel is a memoir of Lucy’s life and her love for food while growing up being the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, and the lessons she learned throughout her upbringing where food was the topic unto which the lessons were learned. Knisley’s illustrations are thoughtful and colorful, and her words are funny and approachable.
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo: This YA Realistic Fiction is about a high school student, Emani Santiago, who is the mother of a young child and is put into circumstances where she needs to help support her Abuela. Despite all the responsibilities on her plate, she can’t let go of her dreams of working in a kitchen where she has the ability to make anything she cooks taste delicious. Though she knows she needs to stay focused on caring for her family, she can’t help but set her potential ablaze as she continues to chase after her dreams of being a chef.Another thing you can challenge yourself to do this summer is to visit one of HCPL’s branch libraries for an event where food will be what brings you together with others in the community. Below are some events being hosted this summer where you can get the opportunity to learn about, cook and eat food:
- Polymer Clay Earrings **Adults & Teens Only** at Barbara Bush Branch Library on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, opens a new window
- DIY Jell-O at Fairbanks Branch Library on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, opens a new window
- Who Screams for Ice Scream?! **Adults & Teens Only** at Barbara Bush Branch Library on Friday, July 14, 2023, opens a new window
- Club Anime! Cosplay, Candy, and Crafts at Atascocita Branch Library on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, opens a new window
I hope that this summer you get the opportunity to take on the challenge of reading books about people getting together to share meals, and to visit one of our food-inspired events at one of our branch libraries. I also hope that you get to spend time with your loved ones eating the food that brings you together, creates bonds, and can be a story you get to tell in the future with fond memories!