Auburn launches city-wide reading program

Librarian Jennifer Fairchild displays Michael Pollan’s books, which are part of the city-wide Auburn Reads program, promoting food literacy.                                  - Mark Klaas/Auburn Reporter
Librarian Jennifer Fairchild displays Michael Pollan’s books, which are part of the city-wide Auburn Reads program, promoting food literacy.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Auburn Reporter

Auburn hopes knowledge-hungry residents will turn the pages to its city-wide summer reading program that’s serving up a healthy food theme.

The community reading initiative Auburn Reads, which was launched last week at the Auburn Public Library, is designed to promote reading in general and food literacy in particular.

“The idea is to make people aware of what they eat, where it comes from, why they’re eating it,” said Bradley Shackleford, librarian. “Ultimately, the goal in mind is to educate (the public) so they can actually make healthy choices.”

The reading program, which will run from May to September, is a joint partnership among the Auburn Public Library, Auburn International Farmers Market and Readers to Eaters, an organization that promotes food literacy. Friends of the Auburn Library made it financially possible.

At the hub of the program is one author’s work – Michael Pollan’s New York Times best-selling “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” and its young readers’ edition, “Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat”. Residents are encouraged to check out the books at the library or purchase them at

The program also will offer many healthy food-related books to readers.

In addition, the program will feature nutrition and gardening workshops, film showings, cooking demonstrations and related events to increase the community’s understanding of what it eats while highlighting Auburn’s rich farm history.

“I’m hoping more people will become aware of what’s going on with our food source and farming and (to make the) connection,” said Lillie Brinker, farmers market manager. “Auburn Reads is a great way to celebrate the city’s rich food history and sources, from local farmers to the school nutrition program. The two books we selected will add to our understanding of where our food comes from for both children and their families.”

Readers to Eaters’ Philip Lee, a publisher, book seller and educator, approached Brinker about the possibility of creating an outreach reading program designed to honor the community’s farming past and the school district’s heralded nutrition program.

“It just seems the community has gotten away a little bit from being in touch with the tradition of the city as well as some of the innovative things still going on,” Philips said.

Philips said the program will help readers, both young and old, discover what is available today in pursuit of healthy food options.

The program also will encourage others to pull a book from the shelf.

“It’s our mission in the library to promote reading in all of its forms,” Shackleford said. “If we can generate interest in this program, by extension we’re generating interest in the library. From my perspective, that’s really the crux of why we’re involved with this … to ultimately make the community a better place to live.”

For further information, please visit the Auburn Reads Facebook page

or contact Philip Lee at

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