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Farragut High students to read McBride book
“Color of Water” a summer reading requirement


In the town of Farragut, where citizens pride themselves on supporting local businesses, volunteerism and participating in family friendly activities, a community-wide reading program is sure to be a success, Ken Stansberry, a teacher in the Farragut High School English department, said he hopes.

Stansberry said he is enthusiastically getting ready to launch the first Farragut community reading program with the book “The Color of Water” by James McBride.


FHS students would be given their summer reading assignment upon registering for fall classes, Stansberry said.

Honors English classes will have additional reading requirements, but all students will be responsible for reading “The Color of Water,” Stansberry said.

The book will appeal to most everyone, he added.

“This book is not as lengthy as last summer’s assignment, and the writing style is much easier to understand. Readers will find ‘The Color of Water’ both inspirational and thought provoking,” Stansberry said.

“The Color of Water” is a black man’s tribute to his white mother. The book details the author’s experiences growing up in a Brooklyn housing project. Always sensing that his mother was different, McBride kept searching for answers to his heritage while trying to survive in a world filled with prejudice.

Critics proclaim that McBride eloquently provides an exploration into what family truly means.

The teaching staff at Farragut will be receiving its copy of the book in April.

The teachers are excited about the book, and discussion groups are already being scheduled, according to Stansberry.

The staff has arranged for a guest speaker to come to the high school in order to provide some insight into the life of McBride’s mother and her religious beliefs.

The Knox County Teacher Center has scheduled a discussion facilitated by Dr. John Zomchick, professor and head of the University of Tennessee English department. Zomchick will offer the teachers suggestions on how this book might be used in the classroom.

Mayor Eddy Ford is set to declare a proclamation that the town has officially established a community reading program. Stansberry said he is hoping that discussion groups will “pop up” all over town.

“Wouldn’t it be great if a group of parents and teens went to lunch at a local restaurant and exchanged thoughts about this book?” Stansberry said.

Another avenue would be to have local youth groups meet to talk about “The Color of Water” and how it parallels their lives today. We may never know how many discussion groups actually take place, but Stansberry said he is hoping that there are too many to count.

“The Color of Water” can be found at local bookstores and may also be ordered on the Internet.

Stansberry and the teaching staff at FHS said they are “confident that the community will commit to reading this book with our children, neighbors and co-workers.”

Collectively, the FHS English faculty said they are hoping that this will be the first of many successful reading programs that will “inform us, inspire us and bring us closer together as a community.”

The English Department has provided some Web sites to offer readers further insight: www.jamesmcbride.com (James McBride’s Web site); www.wcfls.lib.wi.us/water/ (Waukesha County Library

Web site); www.penguinputnam.com/static/rguides/us/color_of_water.html (Penguin Reading Guides); www.readinggroupguides.com/guides3/color_of_water1.asp (Reading Group Guides).

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