Thursday, July 29, 2021


Community, friendship, and spiders? Oh my!

Jennifer Blue |

A rural community is the perfect place to bring “Charlotte’s Web,” a novel by E.B. White. 

This is just what will happen in Colusa County this April 27 for Virginia Read Day. 

Every spring for the past 10 years, the Virginia Yerxa Community Read (VYCR) has brought to life a carefully chosen literary theme.

This year, the focus is to include those who may benefit most by reading: the youngsters.

Roberta James, VYCR co-founder, said this is the first year a children’s book has been selected as the book in common, but that it is something the late Virginia Yerxa, who knew the importance of reading to children, would like. 

VYCR presented an open invitation to the community to read this year’s selection by handing out brand new copies of “Charlotte’s Web” last week to all Colusa County third graders, absolutely free, thanks to generous donations, James said. 

The theme behind “Charlotte’s Web” is that of friendship and community, making it a good selection for children in this year’s celebration of literature. 

Stacey Costello, a member of the VYCR board and Colusa County Library Director summarized  the very lengthy and thoughtful process of whittling down the choice of books and what happens after as “serendipity.”

“It always just kind of comes together… events just kind of fall into place right around it,” Costello said. 

Although the VYCR committee chooses the book, Costello was quick to point out that the bulk of the decision is made from community suggestions. 

Although April 27 is the big day, the community should keep an eye out for other fun activities held throughout that week, which are still in the works. 

A sneak preview into some of the events includes a special guest speaker for children’s literature, a hands-on spider experience from entomologists at U.C. Davis, The Stagehands Theatre performance of “Charlotte’s Web,” and artisans who teach weaving similar to the spiderweb artwork from the book. 

All events are free to the community as Virginia Read Day is run solely on private donations year after year, James said. 

E.B. White penned, “No one had ever had such a friend—so affectionate, so loyal, and so skillful.” Friendship and community connect this book right to the heart of Virginia Read Day. 

Roberta James, a friend and mentee of Yerxa, shared with third graders at Grand Island Elementary School on Jan. 30, a loving memory of how Virginia would go around to all the classrooms and read to the children. 

“At her memorial, I realized: People really show up for Virginia, so maybe they would be open to the idea of a community read if we did that in her honor,” James said. 

With the blessing of Virginia’s family and the help of Elizabeth Yerxa, the first Virginia Read Day in 2009 started an annual tradition with a loyal group.  

Each year, the event grows as the VYCR committee carefully considers selections that will reach out to various groups, such as 2015’s “The Things They Carried,” which focused on those who have served in the armed forces. 

This year, VYCR reaches out to our children with “Charlotte’s Web,” a fitting legacy of Virginia’s spirit.  

VYCR has made sure that an abundance of copies are available around Colusa, and free copies are available atthe libraries as well.  

To keep an eye out for the program events, times, and dates, check back periodically at 

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