Community Reading Circles

Better Together is excited to launch Community Reading Circles. If you’ve been wondering how you can take action toward a more inclusive Owatonna, leading or joining a Reading Circle this summer is one easy step. This is a community-wide initiative where small groups of about 5-10 people – Reading Circles – can read a book that will help us discuss race, white privilege, anti-racism and related topics. We are looking for Reading Circle leaders and participants!

Reading Circles begin mid-July and will culminate with a community-wide summit in September, where all Reading Circles can meet to discuss and share what they learned. You don’t need any special qualifications to lead a Reading Circle – only the desire to learn and help Owatonna grow as a community and a willingness to ask others to join you. Better Together will provide more information and guidance to Reading Circle leaders, but here’s what you need to know now:

Reading Circles will select one book to read from the following options:

  • “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
  • “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
  • "Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

Reading Circles can be your friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, faith groups or your book club. If you are interested in leading or participating, please send an email to by Friday, July 3. You do not need to have your group figured out before you respond. Or maybe you’re in a group that has already started reading one of these books. We’d love for your group to join us. In your email, please let us know if you’d like to lead a Reading Circle or participate as a Circle member. If you already have a group that would like to participate as a Reading Circle, please let us know how many people are in that group.

Reading Circles are open to everyone in Owatonna, but this is an educational opportunity for allies to discuss racism, white privilege, white supremacy, anti-racism, etc. In addition, these book selections reflect the current national dialogue on injustices specifically related to the Black community. Better Together plans for this summer Reading Circle initiative to be a start for ongoing Reading Circles and discussions that focus on other communities of color and cultural issues in the future.

We are better together when we can learn together, acknowledge our own biases, and start being a better neighbor to every community member. Community Reading Circles will provide some of the tools to do just that! 

United Way of Steele County is a proud advocate for Better Together