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Read Across Lawrence

Choose Kind @ Your Library

February and March are Read Across Lawrence months at Lawrence Public Library. The goal is to get everyone in the community on the same page by reading the same book at the same time; this year, we tried a grand experiment: one book for all ages.

Wonder by RJ Palacio was the perfect choice. Its central lesson, “If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind” resonates with readers of any age.

In the spirit of Wonder, we’ve put together this short list of inspirational reads that focus on the universal themes of kindness and the power of friendship. All are available at your public library. Read More..

It’s a Wonder-ful Float!

Help us build a Wonder-themed float for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17!

We’ve been celebrating kindness for nearly a month and on St. Patrick’s Day we’re taking our many messages of kindness and friendship to the streets.

Register online here or call 785-843-3833 to get in on this community kindness campaign!


Family Build — WED, Mar 7 | 2-5 PM | Readers’ Theater
Family Build — WED, Mar 14 | 2-5 PM | Readers’ Theater
Teens Build — WED, Mar 7 | 2-5 PM | Auditorium
Teens Build — WED, Mar 14 | 2-5 PM | Auditorium
All Ages Build — FRI, Mar 16 | 2-5 PM | Auditorium

SAT, Mar 17 | 1 PM | Downtown Lawrence

Fighting Back in a Different Way

“I was looking for music on YouTube and that’s when I found it. And that’s when I lost it.”

On Thursday, MAR 1 at 7 PM, follow the inspiring journey of 26-year-old, 58-pound Lizzie from cyber-bullying victim to anti-bullying activist in this touching documentary. The film screening will be in our Auditorium.

Born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Velasquez was first bullied as a child in school for looking different and, later online, as a teenager when she discovered a YouTube video labeling her ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman.’

Teen Zone Expanded: Button-Making!

We’re pulling out the button machine!

On WednesdayFEB 28 from 2-5 PM, head to the Readers’ Theater and design your own kindness-themed buttons to on your favorite book bag or “Canadian tuxedo” (insert laugh-cry emoji).

Supplies and friendship provided!

Nerd Nite 68: A Most Wonderful Read Across Lawrence

Nerd Nite is like the Discovery Channel — with beer — and on Wednesday, FEB 7 from 8-10:30 PM at Maceli’s, we’re partnering up to celebrate Read Across Lawrence and a variety of themes in our community read pick: Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Haven’t finished the book yet? No worries! Nerd Night 68′s presentations won’t spoil the book for you.

Doors open at 7, $1 cover charge, and we’ll get things going at 8 PM. It’s going to be Wonderful!

Nerd Nite 68 Presentations

“The Future is Now: Clinical Genetics as the Forerunner of Precision Medicine,” by Eric Rush

Discoveries in genetics that impact the health of humans are in the news daily. While these advances are exciting, did you ever wonder who actually uses them to improve patient care? Enter Clinical Geneticists. We are clinicians who use our eyes, our brains, and ever-expanding cytogenetic and molecular testing to diagnose patients with genetic conditions. We use this knowledge to treat our patients either symptomatically or with targeted molecular therapies. The paradigm of giving a patient the correct treatment, at the correct dose, and at the correct time is the essence of what has come to be called Precision Medicine. We in Genetics have been approaching our patients in this fashion for the past fifty years. We will discuss the history of Clinical Genetics and how this relates to our current medical practice.

“The Creative Outsider, or Why Marginalized People Make the Best Innovators,” by Barbara Kerr

Kerr will talk about her research on creative, eminent women for her book “Smart Girls” and eminent men for her book “Smart Boys” — and show how long periods of aloneness, rejection by popular peers, and distance from privilege can stir the imagination. The importance of one good friend and a family that provides both challenge and refuge also helps in the development of the creative person.

“‘The Wonderful[?] World of Disney’: Film Adaptations of Popular Children’s Narratives,” by Giselle Anatol

Anatol will explore several popular Disney films from the 1930s to the present and juxtapose them with the stories on which they are based. She will consider changes to the original tales and how those provide clues to the historical and cultural contexts in which both versions were created. She will also consider the messages both versions send to viewers about a variety of ideas, such as gender roles, romantic love, and beauty ideals.


Dr. Eric Rush is a Clinical Geneticist at Children’s Mercy Hospital and the University of Kansas Hospital and is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. As a high school student, he became interested in genetics when learning of the cause of his own color-blindness. He graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in biochemistry and genetics in 2001, and graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2005. Between 2005 and 2017, Eric took his show on the road, completing his training in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Clinical Genetics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and staying on the faculty for five years after training. His research interests include treatment of rare genetic bone conditions and discovery of new syndromes.

Barbara Kerr is Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology and Co-Director of the new Center for Creativity and Entrepreneurship in Education at KU. She is also co-founder of the Lawrence Creates Makerspace. Her life’s mission is to make the world safe for creative people, but she worries it is becoming less, rather than more so. She studies how creative talent develops and the conditions that encourage it in the family, school, work, and cultures. She is author of the “Smart Girls in the Twenty-first Century: The Development of Talent in Women;” “Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, the Search for Meaning,” seven other books and over a hundred articles. Her most recent is “Creativity and Innovation in Iceland: Individual and Cultural Variables.”

Giselle Anatol is a Professor of English at KU. Anatol’s primary fields of interest are Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora Literature, especially 20th- and 21st-century women’s writing, African American Literature, and Children’s and Young Adult Literature, particularly representations of race, ethnicity, and gender in narratives for young people.

RAL Maceli's Nerd Nite logo


Certified-kind Community Challenge

We live in a caring community and starting Saturday, FEB 10 we’re going to see how kind we really are.

In the spirit of Wonder — our Read Across Lawrence book pick for 2018 — we want to give a visual representation of the good deeds that happen here every day. Ready to get your kind on?

Download your Kindness Log here.

Here’s how to participate!

  • Pick up a Kind Community Log at our Welcome Desk
  • Keep track of your acts of kindness by checking off a heart for each act
  • Between FEB 10–MAR 17, come add a pom-pom to our bin for every good act you’ve done
  • Pay it forward — get the word out to others and watch our collective kindness grow!

Kind Community Log 787 pxhCertified Kind collection

Read Across Lawrence welcomes anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez

After first being bullied as a child in school for looking different and later online as a teenager when she discovered a YouTube video labeling her ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman,’ Lizzie Velasquez, who was born with a rare genetic condition that prevents her from gaining weight, became an advocate for victims of bullying the world over.

Lizzie will deliver our 2018 Read Across Lawrence keynote address. Her message of self-acceptance aligns beautifully with the themes in Wonderour 2018 Read Across Lawrence book pick about a young boy named Auggie with a facial anomaly.

Lizzie’s family-friendly event will resonate with all ages, but will be especially powerful for teens and kids who have experienced bullying themselves.

“Lizzie Velasquez is a wonderful capstone to our Read Across Lawrence events surrounding R.J. Palacio’s Wonder,” said Brad Allen, Lawrence Public Library executive director. “Her anti-bullying advocacy and message of kindness and acceptance are very much needed in the world right now.”


An Afternoon with Lizzie Velasquez
SUN | Mar 11 | 3:30 PM | Lied Center | All ages
1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-2787

Thanks to a generous gift from BNSF, this event is free and open to the public. General admission; no ticket required.


In December 2013, Lizzie Velasquez took the stage at the inaugural TEDxAustinWomen and gave a talk titled, How Do You Define Yourself? that has garnered over 13 million views across the web. Her story has been featured on Katie Couric, The Today Show, The View, Huffington Post, the Associated Press, and many other national and international media outlets. Her YouTube channel has over 793,668 subscribers.

Lizzie’s latest book, Dare to Be Kind, will be available for sale and a book signing will follow her talk.

FEB 10 – MAR 17

Read Across Lawrence is an annual, community-wide reading event that encourages everyone in Lawrence to read and discuss the same book. We’ll host book discussions and activities for all ages that explore R.J. Palacio’s themes of kindness and acceptance in her debut novel, Wonder. The Lawrence Schools Foundation and Lawrence Public Library Foundation teamed up and received a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation to supply 1,000 copies of the book to students, teachers, and classrooms all over Lawrence.

BNSF logo
2017 RAL Partners Header Media Release

Coming to Terms (or Tears) with Wonder

“Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” -Auggie, Wonder

Whenever I’m handed a book with the promise “This will make you cry,” I’m always a little skeptical. A montage of dogs seeing their owners after they get back from deployment, I am bawling, but it is the rare book that makes me break down and cry. So when Wonder by R.J. Palacio was handed to me and I was told that it was a tearjerker that might become our Read Across Lawrence book, I was skeptical. Read More..

Caddy Stacks All Ages Mini Golf is Back!

Friday–Sunday, Jan 26-28, bring your A-game and come putt-putt on our 18-hole, community-built golf course that winds throughout the library!

Caddy Stacks, the Library Foundation’s wildly popular fundraiser, is taking inspiration this year from Wonder, our Read Across Lawrence book by R.J. Palacio.

The course will feature the people, places, and things that make our community wonderful. Caddy Stacks happens only every 2 years — don’t miss it! All proceeds support community literacy programs at your library.

The library will close early at 6 PM on Friday, Jan 26.

MORE INFO: Visit or contact Kathleen Morgan at Special thanks to Billy Pilgrim for designing this year’s invitations!

The Wonders of Lawrence Tee-Off Schedule














Adults Only Mini Golf Party!
FRI | Jan 26 | 7:30 PM | $40 per person — click RSVP button below
“Par-Tee” after hours at the library with Lawrence’s wonderful sports guys, Brian Hanni, Kevin Romary, and Tom Keegan! Your reservation includes unlimited mini golf, clubhouse snacks, and drinks. The best golfers advance to the Wonders of Lawrence Tournament.

Family Golf
$5/player or $20/group of six — Pay at the door
SAT | Jan 27 | 10 AM–5:30 PM
SUN | Jan 28 | 12–5:30 PM

2017 Adult Golf Party Reservations button



2018 Caddy Stacks sponsors

Honoring Dr. King with an All-ages Day of Service

Take the “day on, not off” with us as we follow Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s steps in serving our community with a day of activities for everyone.

Beginning at 10:30 AM on Mon, JAN 15 in the Auditorium, join us in honoring America’s seminal figure of the civil rights movement with a day of service and dialogue.

Together with our partners from AmeriCorps, the NAACP, the Women of Color Muralists, and students from Lawrence and Free State high schools, we aim to commemorate King’s legacy on this day and throughout the year by involving the community in critical conversations.


10:30 AM | Diversity Storytime with LPL Board of Trustees trustee, Ursula Minor
11 AM | Community Art Project with W.O.C. Muralists
12 PM | Free lunch from Hy-Vee
1 PM | Get your free copy of 2018’s Read Across Lawrence selection, Wonder — while supplies last!
2 PM | Speak Up! for Teens
4 PM | Film screening of The 13th followed by moderated discussion