“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” – Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson knew that reading is one of the essential ways that society nurtures a free, educated, creative society. Through reading, we are exposed to different viewpoints, we build our civic superpower of critical thinking, and we become more empathetic of our fellow citizens.
With that in mind, today we open the nomination process for our yearly statewide reading project: The Summer of Democracy Reading List. Every spring, we count on Nebraskans to nominate book titles for all ages that are fun and funny as well as serious and fundamental to our democracy.
We’re eager to hear your suggestions about what should be included this year. Here’s how you can contribute to the Summer of Democracy Reading List:
Nominate a book, or two, or three, or …
We keep the nomination process pretty informal: If you’ve got titles in mind that you believe are worthy of wider exposure, please share them! In an email, please write down a few sentences about your nomination(s), explaining how the book(s) highlights civic values, promotes strong communities, or advocates for fundamental American rights. To get an idea of what we usually look for, here are the titles we selected in past years: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018
Share your best nonfiction books for adult readers.
There are so many great titles out there that take deeper looks at our nation, our history, our civic life, and our prospects as a nation. One that we recently picked up from our friends at Francie & Finch is And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham.
The Pulitzer-winning historian tells Lincoln’s story from the Kentucky frontier in 1809 to his leadership during the Civil War to his assassination in 1865: his rise, self-education, loves, bouts of depression, political failures, and his conviction that slavery had to end. Lincoln’s story illustrates the ways and means of politics in a democracy, the roots and durability of racism, and the capacity of conscience to shape events.
Who knows? And There Was Light might just make it onto the 2023 Summer of Democracy Reading List.
Also: Share your best fiction, and nonfiction titles – for readers of all ages.
Consider that there are civic lessons in books for different age groups. In the Divergent and Resistance series, lessons about everything from propaganda to how ordinary people can create and lead change in the face of entrenched power are upfront. Sharing a range of titles and genres for readers of all ages builds engaged Nebraskans from ages 6 to 106. And variety is good!
Send us your picks by May 24.
Email your nomination(s) to me, Steve Smith, Civic Nebraska’s director of communications, by 5 pm CDT on Wednesday, May 24. Please include your name and your town or city of residence. If you live outside Nebraska, you’re welcome to participate – do please let us know if or how you’re connected to the Cornhusker State.
Then, look for the complete Civic Nebraska Summer of Democracy Reading List on Memorial Day – just in time to kick off your summer reading. We’ll include links for each title in both print and ebook, whichever you might prefer. Then, it’s time to read. Because as the Founders taught us: Reading keeps us free.
We can’t wait to see your picks!
Director of Communications