Following a family making the trip from their rural Gulf Coast farm to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, Sing, Unburied, Sing is told in three voices—13-year-old Jojo, who is learning under the wing of his grandfather what it means to be a black man in the South; his mother, Leonie, who is reeling from the grief of loss; and Richie, a ghost who connects Jojo with his grandfather's past. Part ghost story, part road novel, this groundbreaking historic National Book Award-winner is a journey through our collective history and a staggering tale of survival, connection, and unshakable love.

This year's featured selection is accompanied by the One Book adult companion title, Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward's memoir. Recounting the loss of five young men in her life over a brief period of time, Ward explores the history and persistence of racism and economic struggle in her Mississippi hometown. The featured One Book youth companion titles include Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña.

One Book, One Philadelphia offers discussions, film screenings, workshops in music, art, and writing for all ages, cooking demonstrations, performances, open-mics, and children's activities throughout all 54 locations of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Nearly 100 One Book programs illuminate themes such as mass incarceration and the impacts of poverty, racism, and addiction, as well as protest literature and art, road trips and journeys, intergenerational relationships, ancestry, the afterlife, and human connection with animals and the natural world, among others.

Hundreds of community partners develop programs and contribute resources to help ensure a successful year of One Book, One Philadelphia. We are grateful to our sponsors and partners for their tremendous support.

One Book, One Philadelphia is a beloved city tradition that engages thousands. The program starts on January 16, 2019 with our Kickoff Event at Parkway Central Library featuring author Jesmyn Ward. Join us in celebrating our 17th year, and check out a copy of Sing, Unburied, Sing from your neighborhood library.

Primary Sponsors

  • The Field Foundation

  • PECO
Media Partners

For more information, please call 215-814-3514 or email

One Book, One Philadelphia