Common Reading Experience


One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight. (source: Macmillian Publishers)

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater has been selected as UNC Charlotte’s Common Reading Experience text for Fall 2020.  The committee is confident that this sensitive, powerful book will spark discussions of systemic inequalities, cultural diversity, and self-awareness.  We are excited to see what instructors who adopt the text will be able to do for and with their students to increase their understanding of a complex world.  We encourage wide-scale campus engagement with, and first-year course adoption of, The 57 Bus.

Author Dashka Slater will visit campus and speak to the public at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, 2020.                              

NOTE TO FACULTY:  If you would like to adopt (or consider adoption) of The 57 Bus for  your fall 2020 course(s), please contact Carla Eastis at to arrange delivery of a desk copy, and to be included in announcements regarding special events around the CRE. You should also submit the book to the campus bookstore as a required text for any course in which you will be using it.

The Common Reading Experience at UNC Charlotte provides a shared academic experience to assist first-year students in their transition to the university.  The program offers opportunity for self-reflection, critical thinking, student interaction, and understanding of diverse perspectives.

Former Common Reading Experience Selections

2019 Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream, by Joshua Davis
2018 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah
2017 The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez
2016 Find Me Unafraid, by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner
2015 The Postmortalby Drew Magary
2014 The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers
2013 Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World, by Doc Hendley
2012 Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference, by Warren St. John
2011 How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, by Moustafa Bayoumi
2010 The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz
2009 Listening is an Act of Love, by Dave Isay
2008 Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario
2007 The Color of Water, by James McBride