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Writers & Books Celebrates Record-breaking Community Reads Program

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Chris Fanning

Director of Communications

585-473-2590 ext 104

Rochester NY: Last Friday, March 30, Writers & Books wrapped up the eighteenth year of their annual community reading program, Rochester Reads. This year the organization hosted author Reyna Grande (author of the award-winning memoir The Distance Between Us) to Rochester for a three-day residency. Grande held readings of new work and led topical discussions at various libraries (Central, Penfield, Palmyra, Wood, Greece), college campuses (MCC, FLCC, RIT), high schools (SOTA), and a senior living center (Valley Manor). This year more than 1400 people attended these readings, a significant increase of almost 500 people over last year.


In her memoir, Reyna Grande shares the complex experiences of her life, from her childhood in Mexico, through her illegal immigration to the US in pursuit of a better life, to her success as a student and author. This inspirational coming-of-age story follows Reyna and her family as they cross the border and navigate the complexities of living as undocumented immigrants – with Reyna ultimately being the first in her family to earn a college degree.


Karen vanMeenan, coordinator of community reading programs at Writers & Books, spoke about the impact of picking Grande’s book:

“When I first read The Distance Between Us I, of course, recognized its value as a moving coming-of-age story and a beautifully crafted narrative. As I thought more about the recent conversations and the reignited controversies dividing people across our country, I knew this book was important—that if we selected it for Rochester Reads, it could spark crucial dialogue and bring people together. I knew it was the right book at the right time. And the response was indeed extraordinary. We had record crowds at every venue with audiences interested in the author’s experience, her family story, and the implications of continuing policies and rhetoric regarding undocumented people in this country. Reyna Grande captivated our audiences with her engaging presentations and presence, openly sharing her story and inspiring others to do so.”


Writers & Books is Rochester’s nationally renowned non-profit literary center located at 740 University Avenue, in the heart of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. In 2001, Writers & Books initiated the Rochester Reads program. The program seeks to encourage people to connect to others in our community through reading and discussion, and through the shared experience of literature. Each year Writers & Books selects one book for our community to explore together, leading to a residency by the author.



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Writers & Books Receives Regional Development Grant

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Continue reading Writers & Books Receives Regional Development Grant

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Youth Department Winter/Spring Internship

Youth Department Winter/Spring Internship
Writers & Books internships offer candidates the chance to work in a creative and dynamic workplace and the opportunity to learn while working with Writers & Books staff and teaching artists. Interns will gain experience in youth arts education, arts administration, and the nonprofit sector at Rochester’s only literary center.

The Youth Department Internship is for 5-12 hours per week starting In January, 2018, and generally lasting through the semester.



Primary Project: Work with the Director of Youth Education on the production of the SummerWrite 2018 catalog. SummerWrite is our youth camp program which serves over 600 students ages 5-18 through approximately 70 camps over the course of 9 weeks, so this is a great behind-the-scenes opportunity. Duties include: Data entry (course descriptions, instructor bios, catalog-formatted listings, etc.), proofreading, organizing data through spreadsheets
Promotion of SummerWrite programs: distribution of catalogs to schools, online promotion, etc.
Assist with February and April Break camps, depending on availability
Assist in clerical and administrative work such as making copies, putting together anthologies, etc.
Create flyers and other advertisements for youth programs as needed
Other duties as assigned


A demonstrated interest in the literary arts and/or youth education
Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
Excellent written and verbal communication skills

Please note that this internship is unpaid.


To Apply: Please email a resume and brief cover letter to Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education, at


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Rochester Reads 2018: The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

Rochester, NY: Writers & Books is excited to announce The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande as the selection for the 2018 Rochester Reads program. Grande will be in residence doing readings, book signings and other appearances at local libraries, colleges and senior centers in Rochester and throughout the region March 28 through March 30, 2018.


In the 2012 memoir The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande shares the complex experiences of her life, from her childhood in Mexico, through her illegal immigration to the US in pursuit of a better life, to her success as a student and author. This inspirational coming-of-age story follows Reyna and her family from the time her father went north alone—leaving two-year-old Reyna, her siblings, and their mother in Mexico. When her mother joined him two years later, the children were left living in poverty with a negligent grandmother in rural Mexico. When Reyna was 10, she and some of her family crossed the border. The story continues as Reyna and her siblings navigate the complexities of living as undocumented immigrants as well as the ravages of alcoholism—with Reyna ultimately being the first in her family to earn a college degree.


Remember that you can help support your community litereary center by purchasing your book directly from us! Copies of The Distance Between Us are available for purchase at Writers & Books. From September 26 to October 31 recieve 20% off your book purchase! Discount also offered to book clubs and bulk orders of 10 books or more through Writers & Books only.

Writers & Books Social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Reyna Grande Social:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Hashtags: #RR18 #RochesterReads18



Reyna Grande is an award-winning memoirist and novelist. Her first novel, Across a Hundred Mountains (2006), won the American Book Award and the El Premio Aztlán Literary Prize. Her second novel, Dancing with Butterflies (2009), won the 2010 International Latino Book Award. Her 2012 memoir, The Distance Between Us, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards for Autobiography. In 2015, Grande received the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.


After crossing the Mexico/US border and living as an undocumented immigrant, Reyna became the first in her family to graduate from college, and later she earned an MFA in Creative Writing. Reyna is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, which was founded by Sandra Cisneros, and is at work on a sequel to The Distance Between Us. She travels widely with her books and is also a popular motivational speaker.


For more information, visit


For more information on the Rochester Reads program, contact Rochester Reads Coordinator, Karen vanMeenen, at




“Reyna Grande is a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer with an important story to tell.”
–Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

“I’ve been waiting for this book for decades. The American story of the new millennium is the story of the Latino immigrant, yet how often has the story been told by the immigrant herself? What makes Grande’s beautiful memoir all the more extraordinary is that, through this hero’s journey, she speaks for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard.”
–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

“A timely and a vivid example of how poverty and immigration can destroy a family.”
The Daily Beast

“A brutally honest book… the “Angela’s Ashes” of the modern Mexican immigrant experience.” –Los Angeles Times


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Award-Winning Mo-to-the-oncle Solo Show Comes to the Rochester Fringe Festival at Writers & Books

For Immediate Release:  August 12, 2017

Media Contact(s):  Melissa Cole,


Fringe, #rocfringe17


The award-winning solo comedy makes its Rochester debut

Rochester, New York – The New York City solo comedy Mo-to-the-oncle will appear as part of the 2017 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival (Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, September 23) on September 19-20 at 9 p.m.September 22 at 8 p.m. and September 23 at 6 p.m. at Writers & Books (740 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607). Tickets are $10 at, where more information is also available. Remaining tickets will be available at the door starting one hour before curtain. 

Mo-to-the-oncle follows the story of Detroit, Jr., a Bronx teenager who is forced to wear a monocle to school after his dad loses their vision insurance. “This isn’t one of your usual my-mother-always-hated-me solo shows,” says Melissa Cole, the show’s writer and star. Through detailed costume changes, Cole portrays eight different characters throughout the show. “Growing up, I always wanted to be on the sketch comedy All That on Nickelodeon, and in Mo-to-the-oncle, you’ll see me have my full All That moment.”

A Long Island native, Cole says she set the show in the Bronx “for effect” but maintains that the experience of having to wear something embarrassing to school at the hands of your parents is universal. “I once arrived at school in clear jelly sandals with white socks, and the other kids clowned me for the rest of the day. Whether it’s some ugly argyle sweater, braces or a monocle, we’ve all been there.”

Cole thought of the New York City borough and birthplace of rap as a natural springboard for the inclusion of rap music in the show. “I felt the use of rhyme was not only apropos but also necessary,” Cole said. “Plus, it’s high tide and Hamilton is the wave, so I’m surfing!”

For her performance in “Mo-to-the-oncle,” Cole won the Best Actress award at the 2017 Pittsburgh Fringe Festival—her very first fringe festival—earlier this year. In 2015, she was a finalist in the 2015 NBC & Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Diversity Scholarship Showcase, a showcase featuring up-and-coming comedians selected by talent executives from the Peacock Network.

More about Fringe: Since its debut in 2012, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival has become one of the most successful fringe festivals in the U.S., attracting more than 68,000 attendees in 2016. This 10-day, multi-arts festival now boasts over 500 performances and events – more than a quarter of which are free – in 25+ venues in downtown Rochester, NY. Celebrating and inspiring creativity, the Fringe – which is partially curated by the non-profit festival and partially by festival venues – includes everything from theatre, music, comedy and dance, to children’s entertainment, spoken word, visual arts, film and much more. Please visit for a complete schedule, tickets and more information. 

Media please note:  High-resolution photos available at