It’s Time to Talk: OCFB Book Sets Focus on Issues of Diversity and Social Justice

ITT books

In February 2015, several Cleveland Public Library staff members attended the YWCA of Greater Cleveland’s inaugural It’s Time to Talk, a forum where diverse people engage in conversations about race, discrimination, unconscious bias, and cultural competency in our community. In the same year, to answer the question presented to forum attendees: “What could you do to help build awareness?,” Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Public Library made available special book sets for those wanting to continue the conversation.

Book club discussion groups offer a unique experience for those willing to talk about the complex issues of race and social justice. It’s Time to Talk book clubs are a way to engage in thoughtful and intelligent dialogue, where people–-co-workers, community members of different racial and ethical backgrounds–-can sit down together to discuss selected books on race-related topics. The intent is to get people listening to one another, which will lead to greater understanding. This is a worthwhile effort, given that recent research by scientists involving emotional transportation, i.e., how sensitive people are to others’ feelings, have concluded that reading literary fiction can improve empathy.  After all, the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes—the capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling—can be a first step toward becoming stronger in race relations.

OCFB Book Set on Diversity. OCFB and Cleveland Public Library have made book sets (fiction, including graphic novels, and non-fiction) available for borrowing. The literary fiction titles selected are award-winning books that deal with issues of race and cultural diversity.  For a description of each title, search CPL’s online public access catalog; download or print a copy of the OCFB Book Sets on Diversity.

Helpful Resource.  The YWCA has developed conversation guidelines to help facilitate discussion around topics on race and racism. You can download or print a copy of It’s Time to Talk Book Club Conversation  Guidelines.

Description of Book Kits. Each Book Kit Contains:
1 hard copy of the YWCA’S “It’s Time to Talk:” Book Club Conversation Guidelines; 1 hard copy of the Reading Group Book Discussion Guide; 1 USB Drive loaded with the book discussion guide, articles, books and websites recommended for continuing the conversation; 10 copies of the book. All contained in a tote bag.

How to Borrow Book Sets.  Interested in borrowing books for your discussion group? Please contact CPL’s Literature Department at or 216.623.2881. CPL’s Main Library is located at 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114; operating hours are:  Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is located at 4019 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103. For more information about “It’s Time to Talk” programs and services, contact the YWCA.