A Statewide, One-Book Comunity Reading Program
Vermont Reads 2004
First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
From 1975 through 1980 the Cambodian regime of Pol Pot slaughtered millions of its own people in a genocide of almost unprecedented proportions. As a small girl, Loung Ung lived through this nightmare before settling in Vermont as a refugee.
Her memoir of the period, First They Killed My Father, is the subject of the Vermont Humanities Council’s second Vermont Reads program — involving the entire state in the reading of a single book. This program, beginning in late spring and continuing through the end of the year, will bring together Vermonters through activities for all age groups. More than 2,150 Vermonters participated in last year’s Vermont Reads Witness.
The Council invites communities to apply for copies of First They Killed My Father with a special Vermont Reads seal on the cover. A discussion guide and supplemental resource list will also be available. The Council will support local activities by featuring them in statewide press, providing posters, and publicizing events through its media calendar and website.
“The memoir is told in the simple, articulate, moving voice of a young girl struggling to understand and overcome the inconceivable obstacles placed in her path. It’s an important story for readers of a range of ages,” says Program Director Larissa Vigue Picard. “Middle- and high-schoolers, adults, and seniors cannot help but be drawn into the experiences of a child expressing the most basic of all human wants and needs — love, safety, and hope for the future.”
Ung came to Vermont in 1980 as a refugee after surviving five years under the Khmer Rouge. Separated from her family and forced to train as a child soldier, Ung survived against all odds and built a new life for herself. A graduate of Saint Michael’s College, Ung is National Spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine Free World, a program of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. She lives in Ohio.
The Council encourages communities to schedule activities such as book discussions, staged readings, read-a-thons, historical or literary lectures, panel discussions, oral histories, writing projects, contests, art projects, and film presentations related to the book and its message.
Seventeen communities took part in Vermont Reads 2004 with read-a-thons, staged readings, writing contests, history projects, and discussions with collaborations involving schools, book stores, libraries, and literacy groups.
Loung Ung spoke at U-32 School in East Montpelier. She read from her book and discussed her experiences in Cambodia and as a refugee. The event was broadcast statewide over the Vermont Interactive Learning Network.
Vermont Public Radio broadcast a Vermont Reads special.
Vermont Reads First They Killed My Father Full Information Packet
Vermont Reads Media Partner