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Hastings Reads program announces 2018 theme

Kao Kalia Yang. Submitted photo.

The 2018 theme for the Hastings Reads program is "Refugee Voices." This year's book selection is "The Song Poet" by Minnesota author Kao Kalia Yang. The elementary book selection is "Their Great Gifts" by Jon Coy and the middle school book selection is "Home of the Brave" by Katherine Applegate.

Hastings Reads will host several events throughout the month of February surrounding the 2018 theme of "Refugee Voices." Yang will visit Tuesday, Feb. 20. She will share her stories with students at Hastings High School during the day and speak at a community event in the evening. The community event is free and will be at the Hastings Arts Center at 6:30 p.m.

Yang is a member of the ethnic minority born in Thailand's Ban Vinai Refugee Camp and is now an American citizen.

"The Song Poet" is a memoir of Yang's father, Bee Yang. Bee grew up without a father and with a mother who worked endlessly to provide for her nine children. As a boy, he would go from the house of one neighbor to the next collecting the beautiful things people had to say to each other. He whispered the words to comfort himself until one day the words escaped and a song was born.

Other events will include book discussions, a family event, movies, events at the senior center, events at the public library, a refugee panel discussion and more.

Hastings Reads is a community-wide reading program that seeks to encourage reading and discussion of books and the ways in which they can help people understand the lives and experiences of themselves and others.