The article below is from the Fall 2011 Literacy Chicago Newsletter:
Literacy Chicago hosted book discussions on September 21 and October 19 about Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, the Chicago Public Library's fall selection for the 10th anniversary of One Book, One Chicago. Volunteers and members of the community joined in the discussions with the Reading Against the Odds class, a reading group for adult learners of all levels. The class has been reading Augie March together every Monday and Wednesday afternoon and enjoying every page.
"The book is really great," said Reading Against the Odds member Charles Barnett. "I didn't know too much about the Depression before reading the book, except what people told me and what I read before, but this book opened up a lot of doors for me. I'm learning a lot about the city in the Depression."
Students talked about the themes of Augie March in a historical context and in relation to their own experiences. Grandma Lausch's scheming and Augie's stint as a department-store elf led to a discussion of the ethics of "beating the system" to get ahead. Later, students talked about mentally challenged Georgie's detainment in an institution in relation to changing perceptions of disabled people today and throughout history.