Remedies to Help You Survive Flu Season

By: Hayley Hasberger 

Online Section Writer

It’s that time of year when everyone is getting sick around campus and you’re trying to avoid catching anything yourself. Whether you’re getting over a cold, battling a sinus infection or fighting off germs with hand sanitizer, here are a few helpful tips and tricks according to Healthline that will get you through the flu season.

The most obvious and easiest thing to do is to wash your hands with soap and warm water as frequently as possible. Just think about how many door handles, hand railings, desks and other objects you touch throughout the day. This equates to a variety of germs covering your palms and fingertips that can be spread easily into your body if you touch your face or eat food without washing your hands first.

Your diet is important too. If you have ever wondered the reason behind eating soup when you are feeling sick, here it is: it’s purpose it to help boost your immune system. By eating light foods such as soups, fruits and veggies, your body is able to conserve energy for your immune system instead of using up energy on digesting food. Be wary though when choosing your foods. Avoid sugary foods, especially desserts, pastries, candy and sugar-filled drinks as best you can. Sugar weakens the immune system and will only make you feel more ill.

Warm beverages, such as tea, have multiple benefits for getting you through an illness. Warm beverages help soothe your throat and aid in reducing inflammation. Ginger teas are helpful for bringing down inflammation, clearing congestion and supporting the immune system. Lemon teas are also a good choice to increase your Vitamin C. In your teas, feel free to put a spoonful of honey, local and raw, or just have a spoonful by itself. Honey is full of antioxidants, has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is just another way to boost your immune system, which you cannot get enough of. Make note though that you should only have a heaping spoonful, since honey is so sweet and as expressed above, sugar is not good for your immune system when it’s trying to work hard to make you feel your best.

Another simple thing that can have an immense positive impact on your body is rest. Now you may have tests, club meetings, sport related activities or the thousands of other things that go on in a college student’s life, but it is extremely important to get rest. Rest means not running around all day doing things across campus. Rest means being good to your body, and taking time to sit or lay down. You can drink some tea or take a shower during this relaxation time to help soothe your body, or by all means do some homework, watch a movie or open a book. In addition to rest, you need to get adequate amounts of sleep. Sleep and rest provide your body with the energy to combat germs, which helps in decreasing the amount of time you are sick. If you don’t take time to rest and focus on getting eight hours of sleep, then your illness will only last that much longer.

These are just a few suggestions to help ward off a cold or flu and prevent you from getting sick. You can do it, all you have to do is focus on your health, be kind to your body and set aside time to rest.


Social Media and the Kenneka Jenkins Case

By: Nia Waller

Online Section Writer

On Sept. 19, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel, an innocent gathering of friends turned to tragedy.

Kenneka Jenkins arrived at the Crowne Plaza around 1 a.m., what happened after that point has been disputed. Around 4 a.m., Jenkin’s friends called the police to report her missing. After an intensive search, she was found in an empty hotel freezer.

From these facts alone, the case is admittedly sketchy. Before any other news could be released, hundreds fled to social media to share their perspectives on the case. Social media sleuths hooked on to the idea that Kenneka was “sold” for $200 to be raped, murdered and then eventually put inside the freezer.
These are just a few of the tweets people immediately took for fact on the case. Many went as far as sending death threats to the “friends” at the party.

I am still baffled about what exactly brought these self proclaimed FBI agents to this conclusion. In the video that went viral after the incident, Jenkins’ friend is seen at the party looking into her camera and listening to music. The Twitter detectives propose that you can hear Jenkins calling out for help, and the amount of $200 being mentioned in the video. I, for one, hear nothing of the sort.


Still, it is wild to me that a six minute video where the victim is never actually seen led so many to a conclusion that Jenkins was set up for rape and murder for only $200.

Unfortunately, the truth of Jenkins’ death is much less dramatic, but just as tragic. As Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat users alike spammed the internet with assumptions and confusing conclusions, Chicago Police discovered real answers. They found video footage of Jenkins limping through the Crowne Plaza late that night, obviously intoxicated.

I wanted to post the video here, but it is impossible to find any footage that hasn’t been altered in some way by Youtubers.

Toxicology reports found that Jenkins had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.112, well over the legal limit of 0.08. Although Jenkins’ mother did point to the hotel for foul play in her daughter’s death, she admitted “one cup was too much” for her daughter. This amount of alcohol, as well as a therapeutic amount of epilepsy medicine in her veins quickened the process of hypothermia in that freezer.

What sounds more plausible, a teenager who drank too much and stumbled into her early death, or a Lifetime Television movie plot in which teenagers team up to kill one of their own friends for a mere $200?

When finally questioned about the $200, the kids at the party said that it was the amount of a parking ticket that Jenkins would get if she didn’t move her car.

As for the rape, Jenkins had no physical signs of such. No vaginal tearing, no semen. Her only injury was a small bruise on her foot.

After these facts have come to surface about the case, the social media users that were a part of the tide that pushed the rhetoric have been oddly quiet. None of the self proclaimed detectives have said anything about the updates about the case, or bothered to apologize for the internet frenzy they caused. I propose that this is much more than a case of mistaken information. Countless police resources were wasted on unbacked leads, the teens that were relentlessly hounded on social media weren’t allowed to grieve for their own friend and a mother is left still confused about the death of her child.

We, as social media users, have a responsibility to share things that are well thought out, and well backed. The epidemic of “Twitter fingers” is more dangerous than we ever could think. Although it is natural for anyone, especially African Americans, to have a distrust for the justice system, we must use the power that we have been given to be watchdogs with credibility. Let’s point our concerns in the right direction, like the importance of being a responsible drinker, and do good instead of adding unnecessary trouble to an already tragic experience.

UGA’s Great Debate 2017

Alexandra Travis

Web Director

On Oct. 19, 2017, members of the University of Georgia’s Young Democrats and College Republicans entered the South Psychology-Journalism Auditorium dressed in their respective blue and red to face off for the annual Great Debate. The Georgia Political Review and the Georgia Debate Union worked together to coordinate this event to give students the opportunity to come and hear their peers defend their political opinions. When asked what was to be expected from the debate, Ethan Pender, the public relations director for the College Republicans said, “I think it’s going to be a healthy experience for people on both sides of the aisle to come together and just exchange views like adults and say what we believe is best for our country because that’s what it’s about.”

With an expected turnout of around 90 people, the operations director for the Georgia Political Review explained why she thought the event was so popular each year. Simran Modi, a junior psychology student from Lawrenceville, Georgia, said, “What makes this event popular is that we try to focus on recent news issues and events that are really contentious on both sides…. students on both sides are really passionate about what they’re arguing about and they’re really excited to be here.”

Each side had a team of three that alternated answering questions revolving around controversial topics such as immigration, local Athens issues, climate change and foreign policy. The teams had one minute to answer the posed question and two minutes to prepare a rebuttal, then the other team had one minute to share their response. It was obvious that both sides were well-prepared and passionate about these issues. They answered the questions quickly, never needing the full time allotted to compose their thoughts. When asked what went into their preparations for the debate, Max Harris, who represented the Young Democrats described the process, “We prepared for the debate a variety of ways. We had a couple practices leading up to this event, did a lot of research just to make sure that we covered our background and hopefully we’ll know our stuff when we get up there.”

 Team members and the audience remained civil throughout the debate, with the audience bursting with applause in support of some of the arguments. The only conflict arose with a question posed for the College Republicans. The moderator asked, “Recent polling conducted by Yale researchers finds that over 70% of Americans believe that global warming is caused by humans and two-thirds believe that that the federal government should establish restrictions on CO2 emissions. However, leaders within the GOP continue to refuse to acknowledge this problem and support dismantling the Clean Power Plan. Why does your party refuse to take action on the issue of climate change?” Pender began his answer by stating, “Well first of all, I don’t really think that question was framed very well. It insinuates that Republicans are a party that does not care about the environment, and we do… At this panel right now we’re part of the 70 percent that say… our climate is changing, humans have something to do with that and we need to do something about it. So first of all I would like to say that it’s an unfair categorization of all Republicans.”

After the debate came to a close, the competing teams shook hands and congratulated one another. The University of Georgia’s Young Democrats and College Republicans stood side-by-side for groups photos and showed their peers that there is only so much division between the two sides of the aisle.

The Georgia Review Hosts Kaveh Akbar Poetry Reading

by: Diana Richtman

Entertainment Section Writer

It was a Monday night in Athens, and inside the Foundry I clutched my copy of “Calling a Wolf a Wolf” by Kaveh Akbar. Before The Georgia Review Fall Issue Release with Kaveh Akbar began, my sister and I looked at each other. I knew that she must have seen the unrestrained excitement on my face about Akbar taking the stage. The Foundry was a perfect place to hear Akbar read his poems — intimate while still allowing everyone the space they needed to experience his words aloud. Once he got on stage and began to read his poems, I saw firsthand what so many before me had already raved about. Akbar is the type of poet who possesses both talent and a willingness to work hard, and he is as kind as he is engaged with his readers.

Akbar’s poetry has appeared in publications like “The Georgia Review,” “Narrative,” “Tin House” and “The New Yorker.” He is a recipient of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. He is a professor at Purdue University and the founder and editor of “Divedapper,” a website devoted to publishing interviews with contemporary poets. Akbar is the author of the chapbook “Portrait of the Alcoholic,” and this past September his first full length book of poetry, “Calling a Wolf a Wolf,” was published.

Kaveh Akbar reads a new poem at The Foundry in Athens, Ga. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

Akbar was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was around 2 years old. Akbar’s personal experiences often influence his writing. A good deal of his poems reflect on growing up as an immigrant and his search for his identity. His chapbook and full length collection both largely center around his recovery from alcoholism.

Akbar never seems to shy away from talking about poetry, whether it’s on his Twitter, or at a public event. After his reading, he opened up the audience to a Q&A session. When asked what advice he’d give to young poets wanting to see themselves published, he spoke a lot about his own experiences as a young writer, “The most salient advice that I could have given myself would be to just be patient, and I know that would have been an excruciating thing for me to hear.”

Akbar has taken to Twitter on more than one occasion to talk about his experiences of first trying to get his poems published, and he spoke to me a great deal on the subject. His advice? Send your writing to the places you like to read. Even if you get rejected, at least you know where you stand.

He touched on an important point during the event, which is that sometimes young poets need to step back and learn from the other writers around them. “I remember 17 year old me just wanting to be everywhere, and I just wanted to be talking to every editor and just wanted conversations. I was so hungry for it, but those conversations didn’t necessarily need to be centered around my own poetry,” Akbar said.

Concerning where his poems are headed next, he said, “There will be a time in the organizational process of the poems that I am writing right now where I’ll sort of gather them on a table and hold a metaphorical magnet over them and see what goes up.” He continued and said, “I don’t know. I’m excited to find out.”

Wherever his poems are headed, there is a sense that his readers are ready to follow him. We, too, are excited to find out.

5 Hiking Spots in Georgia to Visit This Fall

By: Hayley Hasberger 

Online Section Writer

It’s that time of year again where summer blends into fall, the leaves begin to change color and there is a hint of autumn floating in the breeze. Whether you’re hiding out in the MLC hitting the books or baking up a frenzy of pumpkin pastries, it is always a good idea to get outside. Hiking among the fallen leaves and taking in the fresh air does wonders for the soul and mind.

There are plenty of walking trails near Athens and a multitude of beautiful hikes across Georgia displaying gorgeous fall colors and the beauties of nature.

In Athens: If you want to stay close to campus, there are a few options to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.

Head on over to Lake Herrick and enjoy a short walk on one of the many paths leading around the lake or adventure into the area nestled behind the Intramural Fields at the back of the complex known as the Oconee Forest Park. There are miles of trails perfect for jogging, hiking or mountain biking. The best part of this outdoor scene: it’s dog friendly, so bring your dog along with you.

Not too far from campus is The State Botanical Gardens of Georgia. You can wander around the garden grounds or take the paths less traveled on the forest trails. Some of the trails run alongside the Middle Oconee River, where you can relax on the boulders caressing the water’s edge.

North Georgia: These hikes are less than two hours from Athens, and offer a fantastic day trip to Georgia’s forests and stunning waterfalls.

Tallulah Gorge State Park has 20 miles of trails with several overlooks. The most popular hike in the state park is the 3.4 mile Tallulah Gorge Sliding Rock Trail that takes hikers across a suspension bridge that overlooks the river and gorge. The trail catches elevated views from the gorge’s rim before leading you down to the gorge’s floor to view waterfalls or even go for a swim.

If you are looking for hikes that capture the dramatic fall colors, Cloudland Canyon is the place to be. It offers soaring views from the canyon’s rim and picturesque scenes of plunging waters deep in the canyon. A short 2-mile hike will lead you to waterfalls, and for the energetic hiker there is up to 6 miles of trails along the canyon’s east and west rims that overlook breathtaking landscapes.

Amicalola Falls State Park lives up to its name with a variety of cascading waterfalls; it is home to Georgia’s tallest waterfall. The waterfalls nestled in Georgia’s forest become even more spectacular with the changing of the seasons. The hikes at this location range from just over 2 miles to over 15 miles in length, and all are well worth it to capture the gorgeous scenery.

This fall take a break from your studies, find a buddy and go enjoy all that Georgia’s great outdoors has to offer.


Photos in article by: Hayley Hasberger 

A Mission With Makeup

Xayla Wilson, co-founder and president of UGA’s new organization, GLAM Dawgs, poses for a portrait in New York City. (Photo by Kayla Foy)

By: Kalah Mingo 

Creative Director 

Rihanna’s recent launch of her new makeup line, Fenty Beauty, has flown off of Sephora shelves everywhere. With a message of diversity and inclusivity, Fenty Beauty focuses on catering to a wide range of skin tones. Xayla Wilson, a makeup enthusiast,  was excited to hear about the release of products for such a large range of diverse skin tones. As a woman of color with a deeper skin tone, she is oftentimes overlooked by cosmetic brands. WIlson became interested in makeup as a teenager, and when she came to the University of Georgia she realized there wasn’t a space for a beauty community. That was something she wanted to change, which led her to start GLAM Dawgs, an on-campus organization created to encourage an affinity for makeup and to empower younger women and men on campus to embrace their inner and outer beauty.

Xayla Wilson 

Age: 20

School Year: Junior

Major: Finance and Management Information Systems

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

When did your interest in makeup begin?

I started experimenting with makeup in probably the 8th grade, 9th grade time frame. I remember I first started using this cheap eyebrow pencil from Family Dollar. . .I worked my way to foundation which was a hot mess, but at the time I didn’t know. There was literally no foundation shade for me at the store. I was using the wrong color, but I was making it work.

How did you realize the need for a makeup community at UGA?

I wanted to put my passion in an organization. . .I noticed the need because there are so many people on campus who do makeup but they do it in isolation. Makeup is one of those things that can unify people. We might not wear the same foundation shade, but we wear the same foundation; we can wear the same eyeliner and it just gives people the opportunity to connect with people that they usually wouldn’t talk to.

What was the process of creating GLAM Dawgs like?

It took a lot of hours, but it all came about with a lot of hard work, a lot of paperwork and just a lot of other people being passionate and making sure I stay on what I’m supposed to be doing and me making sure they stay on what they’re supposed to be doing.

What’s the mission of GLAM Dawgs?

The main purpose is to utilize makeup to empower people. We do that in a variety of ways, whether it’s with programs, the GroupMe, our social interactions or the content we plan on producing. We want to make sure we are teaching people about makeup products, makeup techniques and makeup tools. So, the mission is to do all of that and provide a safe environment for every single person to come and experiment with makeup, however they choose to do so.

As a woman of color, do you feel that people of color are adequately represented in the beauty industry?

No, I don’t. I could probably go in Walmart right now and find a foundation, but if I went maybe two months ago, they definitely wouldn’t have had a foundation shade for me. I think it’s working towards progress and it’s working towards becoming more inclusive and more representative of people of color, but I think there’s a long way to go. It’s fair to recognize the progress, but still I recognize that there’s a lot more to do as well.

How do you believe cosmetic brands can do better?

I think actually listening to people, whether it’s focus groups or social media. Social media is a free way to understand how people like products and what they need. It’s just listening to people and hearing them out.

Rihanna recently launched her new line of makeup, Fenty Beauty, that she hopes will fill the industry void for products that perform across all skin types and tones that includes 40 different foundation shades “so that women everywhere would be included.” Should other cosmetic brands follow her inclusive example?

Yes, of course. With the launch though, I was expecting a little more foundation shades. I didn’t try them all out, but I’m usually the darkest shade or one up from the darkest. I went to Sephora and bought a shade. I was disappointed by the undertones, but since she says she’s launching 80 total shades in the collection I’m going to hold out, but I do think that she made a huge statement by including 40 in her first launch. . .the spectrum she did was huge and I think other brands should model their mission after her…props to her for doing it. It offered a brand that stands for something.

What are you buying from the collection?

Girl, I spent too much money. . .I bought way too much.


Fenty Beauty launched 90 products in 17 countries at 1,600 stores and online on Sept. 8.  (Photo by Kalah Mingo)

A Year in the Making: Why Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” is Still Essential

By: Alexandra Travis 

Web Director 

You know an album is timeless if a year has gone by and it still seems like a new release every time you hit play. That is how Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” is for me. Sept. 30 marks the one-year anniversary of its release, and I still play this album nearly every day. I listen to it walking to class and getting ready in the morning; I’m even listening to it right now. Not every album can stand the test of time the way Solange’s has, and I believe the message behind the album is what makes it so special

The message that Solange sends with “A Seat at the Table” is not something that fades with time, especially in the political climate that we live in today. Black women have been known to tell stories and relay history through song because our ideas were not accepted in academia, and Solange is no exception. She croons about the challenges faced by black women every day, whether it is unsolicited petting and people touching your hair, or feeling like you don’t have the right to be angry. By mentioning these issues, Solange has validated the thoughts and feelings of black women across the world, and her music has created a space for self-definition, self-care and community.

One of the most empowering messages that Solange sends is the importance of self-care. She stresses how essential it is to allow yourself to acknowledge your emotions, and through that acknowledgement, come to terms with them and let them go. A prime example is her song “Mad.” She sings, “You got the right to be mad, but when you carry it alone you find it only getting in the way. They say you gotta let it go.” As a black woman, I sometimes feel hesitant to express anger because of the fear of being labeled “the angry black woman.” Solange acknowledges this resistance for black women to express anger, but she points out that holding it in will only make things harder. She does not encourage keeping these emotions in just to appease those around you, instead she tells black women that putting our well-being first is okay. It is empowering to listen to this music and feel like you are understood and for such a strong, black woman to tell you it’s okay to be vulnerable, despite how society may label you.

I can’t thank Solange enough for releasing this album nearly a year ago. It was exactly what I was searching for in terms of validation and understanding. Attending a primarily white institution can make you hyperconscious of the differences between you and your peers. Solange creates a safe space that black women can enter as simply as putting in their headphones. Though those surrounding you may not understand you, Solange does. Listening to her music and message puts me immediately at ease, and to me that is why her album is so classic. “A Seat at the Table” is timeless in the way that the black community can listen day after day and feel safe, at home and validated no matter their surroundings, and that never gets old.

Responding to Native American Erasure in “Yellowstone”

By: Rachel Yuan

Online Section Writer

“Whitewashing,” the act of casting white actors in roles meant for people of color, has been a heated topic in recent months. Though this practice goes back to the early days of film, the issue has been given more visibility in the past year, especially in regards to Asian-Americans calling out their erasure in the media. As a slew of whitewashed films were announced in 2016, like “Great Wall,” where white actor Matt Damon saves ancient China or “Ghost in the Shell,” where Scarlett Johansson plays a Japanese manga character, Asian-Americans voiced their anger at being cut out of their own narratives on screen.

This backlash rightfully hindered the success of these films, and the majority of whitewashed films in recent years have bombed both critically and commercially. Unable to learn its lesson and maintaining traditional industry practices, Hollywood continues to take the “safe route” by casting well-known white actors over people who actually fit the correct ethnicity for the role.

However, while Asian-Americans have been able to garner a lot of opposition to the whitewashing of Asian roles, there has been less backlash over the recent miscasting of a Native American character in the upcoming show, “Yellowstone.” The drama series is set to premiere on Paramount Network in summer 2018, and features half-white, half-Taiwanese actress Kelsey Asbille as a Native American woman.

Asbille’s most recent role was in the movie, “Wind River,” also playing a Native woman. She previously claimed a distant Cherokee heritage; however, an official letter from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians recently revealed that “Kelsey Asbille (Chow) is not now nor has she ever been an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. No documentation was found in our records to support any claim that she descends from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

This discovery has reignited the anger of the Native American community, and many are calling for a boycott of the show. Native American actor Adam Beach explained the deep disrespect of this casting decision in an open letter to Deadline, stating that “many Native communities are still plagued by problems that stem directly from the historical trauma caused by the theft of tribal lands and resources as well as forced assimilation… Natives have been fighting for centuries to preserve our lands and cultures and we are still working to reclaim our identities.”

While this situation is not exactly whitewashing, it is another example of the misrepresentation of Native Americans in the media, which is an issue that does not receive enough attention. Native Americans have also been historically underrepresented on screen, from countless Westerns in the early 1900s to Johnny Depp claiming to be “inspiring” in his role as a Native American in “The Lone Ranger” to Rooney Mara playing Tiger Lily in the 2015 live-action adaptation of “Peter Pan.”

Though it is not a white actor taking the role of a Native actor in this situation, it is still just as painful to be stripped of the opportunity to portray your own culture and people. Asian-Americans, who also understand this feeling, should be equally as appalled by this casting decision and should boycott this show, even if it comes at the expense of the advancement of an Asian-American actress.

A Blast from the Past: University Union Hosts Skate in Tate Event

By: Ana Gonzalez

Online Section Writer

Home game weekends are exciting on UGA’s campus. This past Friday, however, the festivities started a bit earlier. The University Union once again transformed Tate Grand Hall into a skating rink from the ‘80s for the annual Skate in Tate event. This was the fifth year that the student body was invited to strap on some wheels and relive their childhood for a night.

The turnout for the event was tremendous, as first year cell biology major Heath Aston from Marietta, Georgia can attest to. He was manning the waiver table just outside the hall, where he directed students to sign necessary documents before proceeding into the venue. “Seeing the number of people show up was pretty cool,” he said. “We had like over 700 people show up.”

Anxious skaters waited in a line long enough to lead out of the Grand Hall and snake around the side of the room for their skates. Attendees then awaited their turn out on the floor, with rounds of about 40 students permitted on the floor every 20 minutes. Amanda Werth, a senior marketing and international business major from Milton, Georgia was present to direct the skaters. “(My position) working line control gave me the opportunity to interact with people waiting to get inside and hear about how excited they are to be there,” she said. “It’s always fun to see how excited people are once they walk in the doors.”

The décor for this year’s bash consisted of bright colors, a pretzel stand, arcade games and a disco ball to the side of the skating floor. The music was upbeat, a mix of throwbacks and today’s hits. The atmosphere was energetic and bright, with some students dancing with friends in line with smiles on their faces. According to freshman journalism major Willie Daniely from Atlanta, who skated at the event, the function was a success. “I think that the event was a really cool and nicely executed,” he said. “These events are a really good way to meet other people and bond as a university.”

The director of the event, sophomore genetics major Ariane Wong from Marietta, was pleased by how Skate in Tate went. “I love being able to see students come out and enjoy themselves,” she said. “The fact that they could be having the most stressful test week but are still able to relax and take their mind off of school for an hour or two at a Union event gives me motivation to plan these fun events.”

Students help plan University Union events by attending meetings and sharing ideas about what they would like to see on campus. Werth, who is also the head of the organization’s entertainment committee, says the process is always challenging. Members must brainstorm a variety of events that appeal to a diverse group of people. She says, however, that the process is worth it. “My favorite thing is when my peers come up to me and thank me for putting an event on,” says Werth. “It helps us know that we are on the right track!”

Books Finding Their Way to Athenians

By: Caitlyn Richtman


On a chilly November day, a young child skipped down Pulaski Street in Athens, his pudgy hand clutching his mother’s. He broke away from his mom when he spotted a small, red and white wooden box shingled with roof tiles standing tall in a Pulaski resident’s front yard. The child ran up to the box, opened it with a creak and snatched a children’s book out of it before shutting the box again and hurrying to catch up with his mother who had stopped to wait for him a few paces ahead. The boy grabbed his mother’s hand again while looking down at the prize the box had just given him and he continued to skip down the street towards downtown Athens.

The box that the little boy ran up to is one of Athens’ Little Free Libraries which are structures that have been built by the community to encourage Athens residents to read. Little Free Libraries are wooden boxes that are filled with books which anyone can freely take. There are over a dozen of these libraries scattered throughout the Athens area.

The book distribution points are part of a national trend. The Little Free Library project was started by Todd Bol in 2009 when he built a wooden box filled with books to put outside of his home in Wisconsin. Bol wanted to give his community access to free books 24 hours a day. The Little Free Libraries run on the hope that everyone who takes a book will one day come back and replace the book with a new one.

A major portion of the Little Free Libraries in Athens were built by the 2013 LEAD class, a year-long leadership program of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce. The 2013 LEAD class, mainly referred to as READ Athens after choosing to focus on literacy in Athens, built five libraries for the Athens community.

“It was a self-sustaining project, and the community really did adopt them,” Sarah Freeman, a member of READ Athens, told Ampersand Magazine in 2016.

Books Coming to Schools

The Athens community goes above and beyond to promote reading in Athens, mainly for children. Organizations such as Books for Keeps strive to promote reading and prevent “summer slide” for Athens children. Summer slide is when children leave school for summer vacation and they lose their reading skills because they don’t have access to books. Summer slide is more prevalent in low-income communities such as Athens-Clarke County, according to a study done at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, 41.6 percent of children living in Athens-Clarke County were living in poverty.

Books for Keeps was started in 2009 by Athens resident, Melaney Smith, after she heard about a second-grade student not looking forward to summer vacation because she had no books at home. After finding research that linked third grade reading levels to high school graduation rates, Books for Keeps was officially launched as a nonprofit in Athens in 2011.

“When students don’t have books to read during the summer, they’re at risk for falling behind,” said Leslie Hale, the executive director for Books for Keeps. “It’s really a big contributor to the achievement gap, driving a wedge between students who have access and students who don’t have access.”

According to Hale, Books for Keeps serves 15 elementary schools and 6,000 students. For this summer, 72,000 books that have been gathered throughout the school year will be given out over the course of one month. Each child gets 12 books to hold them over throughout the summer months.

“Once we start to give away the books in the schools in late April, I will be in the schools almost every single day,” Hale said.

Hale, the rest of the Books for Keeps staff and volunteers will work tirelessly during the giveaway month to ensure every child gets their books. According to Hale, there are “innumerable” improvements to children’s lives through books.

“If children can change the notion of reading from something they have to do into something they want to do,” Hale said. “When they’re assigned something later that they have to read, they are going to approach it with more of a sense of possibility than as a burden.”

Books Hit The Road 

Cameron Brooks is about to wrap up his 10th year as a third-grade teacher at Chase Street Elementary School, a Title I school in Athens. Brooks is no stranger to summer slide and calls it a “perennial problem.”

After reading “That Book Woman” by Heather Henson and “Richard Wright and the Library Card” by William Miller to his class over the years, two books that depict people who have difficulty procuring literature, an idea popped into Brooks’ head.

In response to the “guilt” he felt for holding hundreds of books hostage in his classroom that his students could be reading over the summer, Brooks came up with the idea for what he calls the “Bibliobike.” The Bibliobike is a bike that has a trailer filled with books attached to the back of it which Brooks can ride around to students’ houses during the summer- a sort of mobile library.

On March 4, Brooks started a GoFundMe page to raise the almost $6,000 he would need to complete this project. After posting a video explaining the Bibliobike to the page, Brooks raised the $6,000 in 24 hours.

Brooks recognizes that the Bibliobike could not happen without the “extraordinarily supportive” Athens community who have been there in many different aspects of his teaching not just this specific project.

Brooks started to teach for the “greater good,” and he believes that giving children books over the summer with the Bibliobike can be a part of the good that he is trying to put into the world.

“All subjects build upon a foundation of literacy,” Brooks said. “But more importantly, literature provides a scaffold for skills that are more difficult to quantify than reading, writing or math. Soft skills such as empathy, critical thinking and social emotional learning often begin with a book.”

Books Changing Lives

According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 93 million adults in America read at or below the basic level needed to successfully contribute to society.

For University of Georgia English major, Ginny Morris, reading was an important part of growing into the person she is today.

According to Morris, giving children the opportunity to read and instilling a love of of reading at a young age is an important step to producing literate adults.

“It started out with my mom pushing me towards books. I don’t quite think she realized what she was doing. In high school, I realized how powerful and moving reading can be. My English teacher in high school taught me that books can teach us what it means to be human,” Morris said.

Morris remembers her summers being filled with books and enjoying investing more of her time in the world of books.

“Reading has advanced my ability to critically think,” Morris said.

Books Finding New Homes

In a world muddled with technology which preaches it is the most convenient way to consume books, Avid Bookshop, a local Athens favorite, is here to convince you otherwise.

“Print is not dead. I get personally offended when people say that. I’m tired of that narrative and it’s bullsh*t,” Rachel Watkins said, the events director at Avid Bookshop.

At least in Athens, print is very much not dead thanks to Avid. A hallmark of Prince Avenue since 2011, Avid opened a second location at Five Points in November 2016.

According to Rachel Kaplan, the events assistant at Avid Bookshop, bookstores will always be around because nothing beats “reading a book in the flesh.”

Along with providing a location for Athens residents to buy books, Avid also hosts author events, book clubs, children story times, culinary events and poetry events to name a few.

Avid strives to support the community that supports them which includes planning events for children in Athens.

“If you’re a reader in your childhood, you’re going to be a reader as an adult. That’s how we ensure we’ll have business in 20 years,” Watkins laughed.

Avid hosts book fairs, brings authors to schools, and has a weekly story time for children in shop. They even have a full-time school engagement specialist.

“We don’t want to be seen as a one dimensional place,” Kaplan stated. “We want to be able to provide programming for all ages, people from various walks of life. We want to serve the community as a whole.”

Watkins describes Avid as a “third place.” A place where the whole community can come to when they need to.

“Reading helps you feel known,” Watkins said. “It provides an outlet for you to discover emotional support. It can make your world bigger even when you’re trapped by finances, economics, your station in life, and how old you are.”