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Delaware County Community College, Serving Delaware and Chester Counties

College-Wide Reading Program

College-Wide Reading

The College-Wide Reading Program is an initiative intended to provide a common reading that encourages thought, discussion, and collaboration at Delaware County Community College. All members of the College community are invited to nominate books for the program and to participate in related activities throughout the academic year.

2020-2021 Book

About Us book cover

The College-wide Reading committee is excited to announce that the 2020-2021 book choice for the theme of Disability and Ableism is About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times, edited by Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. This collection was published earlier this year, but it is already available in affordable Audible, Kindle and Audio CD formats, in addition to hardcover. The book itself includes 61 short personal narratives and essays on a variety of topics, but all of the authors identify as "people with disabilities." Some are experts in their fields (like Dr. Oliver Sacks or Edward Hoagland), and some are students.

Andrew Solomon, in his introduction to this collection, reveals that "the essays in this book do a double trick: they normalize disability and they exceptionalize it. Disabled lives are as valid as nondisabled lives, but they are not the same." (xiv).  The category of "disabled people" is the only minority group that any of us could join at any time. According to the World Health Organization, the definition of disability has to do with "restrictions that reflect the complex interaction between 'features of a person's body and features of the society in which [they live]'" (qtd. in Garland-Thomson 4-5). Many of us are used to thinking of disability in purely physical or visible terms, but this definition emphasizes the social nature of disability. In terms of the United States' governmental statistics, the category of those living with disabilities has recently been expanded to include "neurodiversity, psychiatric disabilities, disabilities of aging and learning disabilities." (Garland-Thomson 5).

About the Program

The goals of the program include:

  • Promoting a habit of reading
  • Encouraging the exploration of diverse experiences and perspectives
  • Providing a common discussion point for all members of the College community
Titles selected meet the minimum standards listed below.
  • Readable by our entire population, including developmental and ESL students
  • Available in paperback
  • Cross-disciplinary appeal
  • Ability to be incorporated into curricular and extracurricular activities
  • Presents diverse or unique perspective

Nomination Process

Students, faculty, staff, and all other college community members are invited to nominate books for future College-Wide Reading Programs. Once the particular year’s theme is announced, we invite you to nominate any and all titles you feel would lend themselves to positive college-wide reading, discussion and programming.


The College wide reading program began as the brainchild of the Reading department in the spring semester of 2003. James McBride spoke on campus at the request of faculty who were teaching his memoir The Color of Water. After the success of the author’s visit, Professor Lisa Barnes worked with fellow Reading Professors Dianne Shames, Sandy Connelly and Valerie Schantz to expand the reach of the program.

The first college-wide book selection was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (chosen by a committee of librarians, the Reading department, and English faculty volunteers). This book ran from spring 2004 to fall 2004. Discussion groups were led by members of faculty and staff from various departments and events began around the book, including serving the food mentioned in the book at a small reception. Swarup Raman gave a seminar on issues of immigration raised in Lahiri’s book.

For the next year’s pick, the program moved to following the academic year (to facilitate faculty adoption). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was chosen for the fall semester of 2005 through spring 2006. This year saw the first larger scale "tie-in" events co-sponsored by the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. Math Professors Dotty Russo and Jill Spellina delivered a seminar on the importance of numbers in the book. Our Director of the Office of Disability Services, Ann Binder, spoke about students with learning differences and the program hosted an essay competition.

Things Fall Apart was selected in 2006-2007; at this point, librarians began to prepare Library Guides for the program (available via the links above). Flags of Our Fathers began in partnership with the Delaware County Library System (DCLS) in 2007-2008.

With Courage and Cloth and Having Our Say were chosen for 2008-2009. There was an additional author visit by Chris Bohjalian (who wrote Skeletons at the Feast) as a tie-in appearance sponsored by a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the partnership with DCLS.

The Glass Castle was chosen as the 2010-2011 choice. Over the years, the program has evolved and its name has changed from the One-Book One-College program to its current name, the College-Wide Reading Program. Titles were not selected in 2009-10 or 2014-15.

The College-wide Reading program is now a housed under the Institutional Diversity committee. The current chair is Professor Liz Gray. Past chairs include Tina Shaffer of The Virginia M. Carter Center for Excellence in Teaching and Librarian Ellie Goldberg.


Secret History of Wonder Woman cover

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
Jill Lepore

Stuffed and Starved cover

Stuffed and Starved
By Raj Patel
Library Guide


Just Mercy cover

Just Mercy
By Bryan Stephenson
Library Guide


Butterfly Boy cover

Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
by Rigoberto González 
Library Guide

Garbology book cover

by Edward Humes
Library Guide

Water by the Spoonful book cover

Water by the Spoonful 
by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Library guide

Girl In Translation book cover

Girl in Translation 
by Jean Kwok
Library guide

Henrietta Lacks book cover

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Library guide


The Glass Castle 
by Jeannette Walls
Library guide

With Courage and Cloth 
by Ann Bausum and 
Having Our Say 
by Sarah L. Delany, A. Elizabeth Delany and Amy Hill Hearth

Flags of Our Fathers 
by James Bradley 
(with Ron Powers)

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
Library Guide