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Strong women take spotlight for this year's One Book Project

Books, community events focus on female innovators, trailblazers

September is Library Card Sign-up Month and this year the American Library Association is featuring Wonder Woman as the ambassador. There couldn't be a better figure to also encourage Kern County residents to take part in the One Book Project, which launches this month with female-empowered themes.

In its 19th year, the communitywide reading and discussion project started with one book — "To Kill a Mockingbird" — and has expanded this year to include a primary book as well as others for all ages. This year highlights three themes: women in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and female empowerment.

The Kern County Library heads up organizing the two-month-long program made possible with numerous community partners including Cal State Bakersfield, Bakersfield College, Bitwise Industries, Kern High School District, Russo's Books, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Taft College ShePOWER Leadership Academy, Kern Literacy Council, Kegley Institute of Ethics and CSUB Fab Lab.

"Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet" by Claire L. Evans will be the main read of this year's project. Positing the true history of the internet is female, the book shines a light on the female visionaries who have made a difference during every major phase of the tech revolution.

Six other books are also part of the One Book programming:

● Brittney Morris' "Slay," a young adult title about a teen role-playing game developer.

● Lynne Kelly's children's book "Song for a Whale: A Schneider Family Book Award Chapter Book," about a deaf girl and her grandmother whom aim to help a whale communicate.

● Picture book "Little Engineers" by Haig Norian about sisters making the perfect gift for their mother using full product development flow.

● Children's nonfiction book "Women Win the Vote!" by Nancy Kennedy, a celebration of the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the trailblazers who made it happen.

● Young adult nonfiction work "Women Who Launch: Women Who Shattered Glass Ceilings" by Marlene Wagman-Geller, which highlights some of the female activists, artists and entrepreneurs who have changed the world.

● "Femme Magnifique: 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World," edited by Shelly Bond, is a graphic novel anthology saluting to women who "take names, crack ceilings and change the game in pop, politics, art, and science."

"There’s a book for any kind of interest level or reading ability," said Jennifer Williams, who is hosting Women Who Inspire programming through Russo's Books. "If you can't get into one book, there are others."

Williams led an author discussion via Zoom last month with Brittney Morris, who was not going to be available during the program's run. She will speak with three other authors: Marlene Wagman-Geller on Sept. 12, Lynne Kelly on Sept. 14 and Shelly Bond on Sept. 21. All interviews are free to watch live but viewers must register ( and receive a Zoom link to tune in. Interviews will be posted later with the first going up during the official launch on Sept. 9.

One Book has a huge slate of events kicking off officially with a Women Who Innovate event, presented by Bakersfield College on Sept. 9. Panelists include Megan Cardenas, a community catalyst for Bitwise Industries, the coding-education, software development and coworking space innovator that will open its campus in downtown Bakersfield this fall. Software developer Anesha Robinson and web development intern Faith Orozco will discuss Bitwise's Geekwise Academy, which helps equip students of all ages with real-world technology skills.

The event will be streamed to BC's Student Government Association Facebook page ( and through the Discord app at 7 p.m. Sept. 9.

Other events include:

Women Who Write: A panel discussion with four local children's book authors — Allison Crotzer, "Unbeatable Betty"; Rebecca Langston George, "For the Right to Learn"; Sharon Langley, "A Ride to Remember"; and Kirsten W. Larson, "Wood, Wire, Wings" — co-hosted by Laura Lollar Wolfe of the Kern Literacy Council and Lynne Kemmer, One Book coordinator for the Kern County Library. 7 p.m. Oct. 20 on Facebook.

Book Talk Bakersfield: Fahra Daredia of Beale Memorial Library and Jasmin LoBasso, head of marketing for Kern County Library will talk with authors in special episodes of the ongoing series. An episode with Morris is available with the schedule continuing with Lynne Kelly on Sept. 21, Allison Crotzer on Sept. 28, Shelly Bond on Oct. 5 and Marlene Wagman-Geller on Oct. 12. Available on the Beale's Facebook page (, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Women Can Create: Learn about CSUB Fab Lab’s equipment and capabilities of this makerspace. Watch on Facebook in September and October.

Women Who Podcast: Discussion of women representation in the podcast sphere and tips for starting your own podcast, featuring Carla Barrientos and Rachel Magnus from the "Hello Bakersfield" podcast and local horror podcast "Not Your Final Girl" hosts Ariel Dyer, Candace Sluder and Gabriela Castellanos. Presented by Bakersfield College and Bitwise. View online 4 p.m. Oct. 13.

Explore Female Stories: The Kern County Library’s weekly virtual family storytime will feature related themes such as women in tech (Sept. 13-19), trailblazing women (Sept. 20-26), women in aviation (Sept. 27-Oct. 3), women in the military (Oct. 4-10), women in space (Oct. 11-17), women in the arts (Oct. 18-24) and women’s suffrage movement (Oct. 25-31).

The project culminates in a virtual evening with the author, which will be held on Zoom at 7 p.m. Oct. 28. The event is sponsored by CSUB, whose First-Year Experience Program requires college freshmen read and discuss the primary title as part of their first year.

"With such a wide range of topics spread over two months, there is definitely something for everybody," Williams said. "I would encourage people that even if you don't read the books go virtually to some of the events. Get a point of view you didn’t have before."

"If somebody doesn't participate in at least one of them, they’re really missing out."

One Book titles are available for checkout in print, e-book, e-audiobook and book on CD from the Kern County Library. They can also be purchased at local retailers Russo’s Books and Barnes & Noble or online.

For a full list of events, activities and resources, visit and

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.