First Oxford ‘Books on the Bricks’ turns city into giant sale, celebrates literacy

Credit: Sean Scott

Credit: Sean Scott

OXFORD — High Street was closed off Friday as residents and vendors gathered for the city’s first Books on the Bricks, a Red Brick Friday event.

Books on the Bricks brought together librarians, local authors and other organizations for a night celebrating reading and literacy. The Friends of the Oxford Lane Library anchored the evening with a book sale that spanned from children’s books to antiques.

Credit: Sean Scott

Credit: Sean Scott

Ann Fuehrer, a local resident, helped staff a table for Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice (OCPJ). The organization shared handouts with information about banned books and set up a display of more than 30 commonly banned children’s books to show people what was at risk. The titles included “The Giver,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “My Rainbow” and even “Where’s Waldo?” As book bans spread across the country, Fuehrer said it’s important to know what’s at stake in local communities and why.

“We said, ‘Hey, if [the city is] gonna have something about books, they have to have something about books that can’t be read or have been challenged across the country,’” Fuehrer said.

While book bans haven’t yet made it to Oxford, the community isn’t immune. Fuehrer said book bans often target LGBTQ+ content, and the best way students and parents can help stand up against bans is by talking to their local librarians and school boards.

Elsewhere Uptown, Miami University retiree Don Kaufman and Cecilia Berg shared books by local authors published with their company Berg Kaufman Publishing, based in Oxford. Kaufman said he read about the event in the Journal-News and reached out to the city to be a part of it.

“We both love books and published a lot of books when we were academics,” Kaufman said. “We started then to look for people that would write books that we could then sort of do as a retirement project, and it’s really been wonderful. We have mostly local authors.”

Credit: Sean Scott

Credit: Sean Scott

One local author, Victoria Buller, had a tent of her own to share her children’s book, “Dot’s Rainbow.” Buller works with Viktoriia Khutkovska, an illustrator in Ukraine who she met online during the war in Ukraine. When Buller asked Khutkovska if she would ever consider coming to the United States, Khutkovska’s answer inspired Buller to start another project.

“She said, ‘No, I want to stay here. It’s like my little corner,’” Buller said. “That’s when I kind of decided about the My Little Corner Project where we could maybe brighten up someone else’s own little corner, the world would be much, much kinder.”

Buller was collecting hand-written notes from people Uptown to send to Ukraine for Khutkovska to distribute.

Books on the Bricks wasn’t just focused on books, though. The night also featured music and a spelling bee for children. Chad Wonsick opened the night singing interactive songs for kids. His mother-in-law Margie Stoller came out to support him with her granddaughter Isla, 4, who was enjoying playing with chalk on the sidewalk.

Isla is moving from Bogan Elementary School to Kramer Elementary School this year. For other kids and their parents getting ready for the school year, the Kiwanis Club of Oxford is hosting a Back-to-School Bash on Aug. 13 at the Oxford Aquatic Center and Community Park. The event, which runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m., will feature free school supplies, haircuts, food and more.

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