With Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston-native band Dropkick Murphys in attendance, residents gathered at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square Monday for the Hometown Authors Reception to honor 29 New England authors.
The reception, hosted by ReadBoston, a city organization dedicated to encouraging literacy with a focus on children, featured book signings from the authors, a speech from Menino and a closing acoustic set from Dropkick Murphys.
“If you can’t read, you can’t dream,” Menino said in an interview with The Daily Free Press. “That’s what’s so important—giving young people the opportunity to open up their minds to new experiences and new ideas. That’s why I love ReadBoston, one of the best non-profits in the city.”
About 200 residents met several best-selling authors including Jack Beatty, William Martin, Susan Shea, Jackie MacMullan and Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Harding.
Theresa Lynn, executive director of ReadBoston, said the reception celebrates local authors in addition to raising money for the organization.
“In Boston we have so many well-known accomplished authors,” she said. “We try to bring together very well-known people and also people that have done very well in literary circles and may not be well known to everyday Bostonians.”
Menino said he personally chose some of the authors and invited them to come and as a measure of gratitude. He introduced himself to each of the authors and thanked them for participating in the reception.
ReadBoston is a non-profit organization founded in part by Menino in 1995 that aims to have all children in the city reading at grade level by the end of third grade. However, several of its programs, including the reception, are meant to appeal to an adult audience as well.
Some of its outreach services include its Story Mobile program that brings free books and story-telling sessions to children at 82 sites ranging from community centers to public libraries during the summer. It also works to develop better communication between children and parents through its Early Words program, according to the ReadBoston website.
After a few words from Mayor Menino, the reception ended with the Dropkick Murphys playing the attendees a short set, closing with “The Season’s Upon Us,” a holiday song.
The band played a role in the campaign of Mayor-elect Martin Walsh and Ken Casey, band member, will continue to be involved in local politics as a part of his transition team. They were chosen to perform because of their close ties to the city.
“We thought they [Dropkick Murphys] sort of embodied Boston this year,” Lynn said. “Between the legacy of the Red Sox, they’re very well-known. They’re very internationallyknown as a Boston band and we were looking for a musical guest and they generously agreed to do it. They were our top choice, and we’re so happy they said yes.”
Several of the authors said they were equally grateful to be recognized.
“I love seeing all these people out and talking to authors,” said Susan Shea, author of “Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow,” ReadBoston’s Best Read Aloud Book of 2012. “I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing … to help people get into literacy.”
Jason Landry, an author and owner of the Panopticon photo gallery in the hotel, said he was enthusiastic about ReadBoston’s role in promoting literacy.
“They [ReadBoston] are doing good things for the Boston community,” he said. “Any time that you can educate more people about reading is important. There are a lot of businesses and non-profit organizations throughout Massachusetts that are trying to do things like that … It’s a great thing.”
Bill Littlefield, a novelist and host of National Public Radio’s “Only a Game,” said the reception was a welcome encouragement for the traditional writer.
“It’s a wonderful event and I’ve already talked to some people who said that they’re doing their holiday shopping here,” he said. “It’s fantastic that anybody still thinks of giving books as holiday gifts in this age of advanced electronics that we’re living in.”