The TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) program is presented to us by the Kansas Humanities Council. Each year, a theme and its books are selected by the Meade Friends of the Library. The Friends have sponsored this program since 1986.
The theme for the 2015 TALK program is “Coming of Age in Rural America.” The books are: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker, Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry and Good Land by Bruce Bair.
Coming of Age in Rural America
If America today is largely a country of city-dwellers, there’s no doubt our nation came of age on the family farm. The stories of growing up that comprise this series are interwoven with the story of American agriculture as it evolved from the self-sufficient homesteads of the 19th century to the large mechanized farms of today. But, while farming and its place in American society may be changing, the young heroes and heroines in these books discover that their identity remains inseparably tied to family, land and neighbors. They learn early about hard work, uncertainty and loss; they relish the ability to tame a colt, drive a tractor, and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors. These books will introduce readers to a varied portrait of youth in rural America: at times nostalgic, at times painful, but full of wisdom and grace.
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
While Laura Ingalls grew up in the little house on the prairie, Almanzo Wilder was living on a big farm in New York State. With chores from dawn to dinner, but plenty of time for fun, Almanzo’s childhood is a celebration of the self-sufficient family farm.
September 12 (Saturday), 2:00 p.m., Meade Library Community Room
Discussion Leader: Rachel Waltner Goossen is a professor at Washburn University specializing in 20th century U.S. and women’s history. She joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 2008.
Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker
Eighteen-year-old Ellen Webb goes off to college and falls in love. When she comes home for the summer to her beloved Montana wheat farm, she sees everything, including her parents, with new and critical eyes.
September 26 (Saturday), 2:00 p.m., Meade Library Community Room
Discussion Leader: Anne Hawkins teaches U.S. history at Washburn University, and U.S. and world history to homeschooled youth across northeast Kansas. She joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 2012.
Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry
Nathan Coulter’s youth is shaped by the tiny farming community of Port William, Kentucky, where generations of his family are rooted to the land. Grandparents, uncles, neighbors and the beauty and cruelty of nature itself all teach him how to live.
October 10 (Saturday), 2:00 p.m., Meade Library Community Room
Discussion Leader: Linda M. Lewis recently retired from Bethany College, where she was professor of English for 27 years. She is now employed as an editor for Wedgestone Press. She joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 1989.
Good Land by Bruce Bair
Bruce Bair was nine years old when his father put him to work on the family farm near Goodland, Kansas. This chronicle of 40 years in the life of one family on a mechanized farm is also the story of the evolution of American agriculture.
October 24 (Saturday), 2:00 p.m., Meade Library Community Room
Discussion Leader: Steven Foulke is an associate professor of history at Ottawa University. He joined the KHC TALK program as a discussion leader in 1999.