Books bringing people together

BLUE EARTH — With a goal to bring the community together through the love of reading, BEA Reads enters its fourth year with a new book, new events and a speaker sure to inspire.

BEA Reads is a partnership between Blue Earth Area Schools and the three libraries within the district: Blue Earth Community Library, the Elmore Public Library and Muir Library in Winnebago. In the program, the libraries encourage those in the community to read a certain book, and then hold events and activities around the book’s themes.

This year, the libraries have chosen to focus on the book “Wonder,” an inspirational story that follows character August Pullman, a fifth-grader born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a genetic condition that often affects the cheekbones, jaw, chin and ears. The inspirational story tells about compassion and acceptance, as well as loving yourself for who you are.

A New York Times bestseller, “Wonder” also hit movie theaters in November 2017.

Janice Croom, children’s aide for the Blue Earth Community Library, said people have really responded to the book and its message of kindness and empathy.

“People are loving it,” Croom said. “The book is very, very popular for children through adults.”

The libraries already have held some BEA Reads events this spring, but there is still more to come, including book discussions, movie nights and storytimes.

To wrap up this year’s BEA Reads, the libraries have invited Steve Bensen of Golden Valley to speak to the community. Bensen, who is married to Blue Earth native Casey Barnes, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome and will discuss his life experiences.

Bensen will speak at all three libraries. Muir Library in Winnebago will host the event at 7 p.m. April 24, Elmore at 6 p.m. April 25 and Blue Earth Community Library at 6 p.m. April 26.

For more information on BEA Reads, visit