The purple ice cream served Tuesday morning at Bennett Martin Library was more than a sweet treat from the Haymarket’s Ivanna Cone.

The ice cream — a mixture of lavender, honey and some other good stuff — helped kick off "Savor The Color of Life," Lincoln City Libraries’ latest adult reading challenge in cooperation with the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

The challenge is intended to encourage reading of African-American literature during African-American History Month and to celebrate “The Color Purple." The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker was adapted into a 1985 film starring Whoopi Goldberg and a Tony award-winning musical revival playing at the Lied Center April 11-15.

“Through the book, the musical and movie, we’ll celebrate its message that in the midst of heartache and injustice there is hope,” said Library Director Pat Leach.

Lied Center Executive Director Bill Stephan said the challenge is a good way to make sure the story's powerful message reaches a wider audience.

“Such a layered and rich story deserves to be celebrated throughout our community,” he said.

City Councilman Carl Eskridge extolled the virtues of reading, and the ability of books to broaden people’s horizons, make their worlds larger and to help them understand others.

The book challenge runs from Feb. 1 through April 4 and involves several activities. Participants register online at lincolnlibraries.org, then read or listen to four books.

Drawings for tickets to “The Color Purple” performance at the Lied Center will take place during that time.

Free events include:

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* African-American read-ins Feb. 9 at the Lincoln Public Schools district office, 5901 O St., and Feb. 21 at the Eiseley library branch, 1520 Superior St. Both events will be at noon. 

* A downtown scavenger hunt March 3-11. The Downtown Lincoln Association and Lied Center for Performing Arts will award prizes for successfully completed scavenger hunt forms.

* A free gospel music concert March 4.

* Movie vs. Book on March 18 at Gere Branch library, 2400 S. 56th St. Participants will watch the movie and discuss it and the book.

* Slam poetry event. More details to come.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist.

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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