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Learning Matters: Read-aloud events for grown-ups offered throughout the fall

Thanks to Glendale’s location on the edge of the vast and vibrant Los Angeles metropolis, and to the many local organizations and agencies working to enrich residents’ civic experience, stories and storytelling abound here.

Interested community members can easily calendar an event or more each week from the local selection of book talks, lectures, celebrity events, and civic club programs.

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There’s way more opportunity for learning and inspiration than most of us can fit in a week.

Topics vary widely, as evidenced by the summer series of author talks hosted by the Friends of the Glendale Library at Downtown Central Library, known as “Downtown Central.”

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The organization’s recent programs, all offered for free, touched on city politics, World War II heroes, mysteries, Dodgers baseball and railroad depots, each event designed to capture the attention of at least a subset of readers.

Perhaps there was a discernible L.A. history theme to the summer series, but it was definitely an eclectic mix. Community programming for this fall, however, scheduled by various groups at various venues, appears to share a more discernibly common theme.

Whether by design, coincidence or a communal need for unifying voices in a fractious time, stories of cultural and personal connections are in the offing.

Here is just a sampling of events inviting residents to come together to hear about our shared human experience.

Friends of the Library’s fall newsletter announces three programs on the theme.

On Oct. 30, KPPC radio host John Horn will interview L.A.-based author Seth Greenland about his new book, “The Hazards of Good Fortune,” a “story of interconnected lives, in which generations, races, and religions converge and conflict.”

On Nov. 5, author Jim Flanagan will speak about “The Korean American Dream: Portraits of a Successful Immigrant Community.” Los Angeles, he points out, is the largest Korean city outside Seoul.

In a program reminiscent of a bread-making event offered earlier in the year by Downtown Central’s ReflectSpace, the Friends group will host foods writer Krystina Castilla on Dec. 9, sharing holiday cake recipes across cultural traditions.

Just a few blocks from the library, during the month of October, Glendale City Church will offer a free, interfaith lecture series on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m.

The series will bring together clergy from Christianity, Islam and Judaism, to ask the questions, “What do the faiths teach about humanity’s responsibility in bringing about a world… free of evil and suffering? How does each tradition help its followers carry out the responsibility, and how can they unite in their work?,” according to a statement from the church.

On Oct. 20, First United Methodist, another downtown church, will host Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, for an evening of tales from his most recent book, “Tattoos on the Heart.”

Anyone who has heard Father Boyle speak or read his books chronicling his work with gangs in Los Angeles knows it will be an evening well-spent. Free tickets for the 7 p.m. talk can be reserved by calling the church office, (818) 243-2105

Volunteers and staff members work to present all of these programs because they believe in the value of community engagement, the sharing of ideas, and the power of stories to improve lives.

They know many of us are reluctant to head out to an event after a day or a week at work or in traffic. They know their programs face stiff competition from all the media options streaming into homes.

Still they persist in efforts to bring neighbors together. They know there’s power and beauty in the shared experience of a good story. Civic life benefits from read-aloud time for grown-ups.

More information about this fall lineup can be found on the host websites: friendsofglendalepubliclibrary.org; GlendaleCityChurch.org; and GlendaleMethodist.org.

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