County Public Library System began its
county-wide reading program,"One
County, One Book," with events in
March, April and May 2003. Pat Conroy's
The Water Is Wide was selected
by a group of librarians and citizens
as the first title in this community project.
for selecting a title included availability
in paperback and film, author's other
works and national reputation, themes
and subject matter that make for good
discussion and programming, and reading
interest of the community. The committee
realized the importance of the
inaugural title and chose
Water Is Wide
because of its locale, author's popularity
both in the community and nationwide,
and its potential for lively discussion
and potential public programs.
Water Is Wide
author Pat Conroy
public library locations offered discussion
groups and programs in their communities, including
panel discussions about the school system in
the late 1960s and early 1970s and "Daufuskie
Island Perspectives." Conrack, the film
version of the book, has several public screenings.Author
Pat Conroy spoke about his book on May 10 at
the University of South Carolina Beaufort performing
Art Center. The "One County, One Book"
program ended with an essay contest and boat
trip to Daufuskie Island (the place known as
"Yamacraw" in the book) benefitting
Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry.
bookstores, theaters, and book clubs also participated
in this project. Thanks
to the generous efforts of the Bay Street Trading
Company and Random House, students at the Beaufort
Marine Insititute got copies of The
Water Is Wide on February 28, 2003,
which the author later signed.
were provided compliments
of Random House Publishers and Bay Street Trading
Company. Will Balk, of the Bay Street Trading
Company staff, was there to tell the young men
about the book and the "One County, One
Book" program. "We're extremely excited
about the program and glad the library got it
going," he said. "And thanks to the
generosity of Random House and their area representative
Kevin Haberl, we're able to share the book with
those who might not otherwise have a copy."
After reading the book, the students plan to
take a trip to visit Daufuskie Island, where
the book is set.
lead teacher Shirley Perry shared Balk's enthusiasm:
"Actually, (the students) are very excited
about reading this book and participating in
a county-wide program. ... Pat (Conroy) was
my brother Nat's baseball coach, so he sometimes
came by our house. He supported Nat when he
was one of the first students to atend the integrated
(Beaufort High School) and I've always admired
him as much his writing talent."
of the Beaufort County Council had been presented
with copies of the book the previous Monday,
on which date chairman William Weston J. Newton
issued a proclamation
to begin the "One County, One Book"
of Beaufort Marine Institute information:
Huckaby, Lolita. "County
Launches Reading Program" in Carolina
Morning News (March 2, 2003; pp. 1 and 5).
The Water is Wide
(Our 2003 Selection)
Island is nearly deserted.
No one has paid much attention to it,
nor to the few black families that live
there. But this beautiful, haunting slip
of land across the water from South Carolina
is home to them, and they've lived off
the bounty from the sea for generations.
waste, pouring into the water from which
they pull their catches, threatens the
only vocation they've known. Unless they
can learn a new way of life, they will
surely perish. Pat Conroy's The
Water is Wide is the true story
of a young white schoolteacher -- a man
who gave a year of his life to give an
island and a people renewed hope. He became
the teacher to their children, and teaches
the adults of Yamacraw Island extraordinary
lessons they didn't even know they needed
"One County, One Book"
County Council chairman
Wm. Weston J. Newton