Thursday, August 19, 2010
Bringing a Community Together by Reading a Good Book!
Are you reading with your community this fall? Since 2006 The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest has provided grants to 800 not-for-profit organizations to organize and promote Big Read events. This year 75 non-profit organizations including arts & cultural organizations, libraries and universities will share in a $1 million grant to host Big Read events between Sept. 2010 and June 2011. For me, nearby Ridgefield, CT. is playing host (thanks to Ridgefield Playhouse applying for and being awarded part of the NEA grant) and that's the community I'll be joining (along with my reading group) to participate in this years Big Read. What's our Big Read? The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck! We'll be reading The Grapes of Wrath, but the book will also serve as a stepping stone to learning more about the period of history the book takes place- in this case the depression era. There will be lectures, book discussions, film screenings, and exhibits, and in "my community" even a concert by the local orchestra including music composed during the same time period as The Grapes of Wrath.
Who chooses "The Books"? "A distinguished group of writers, scholars, librarians, critics, artists, and publishing professionals" recommends the books for the Big Read. This year there are 31 choices which include classics, international authors, poets, and a short story collection. You can find the full list of books at the Big Read Book Page. There are links on the book page for each book's brief description, reading guide, teachers guide, and a link to a radio show where the book is discussed. You can listen to the radio show right from the book page, or you can subscribe in iTunes for free.
Want to know if your community or a community close to you is participating?! You can learn more about The Big Read and use the search engine at the NEA Big Read Website to find a participating community. Even if there isn't a Big Read event near you, you can still enjoy reading one of the great books and find great resources to expand on what you've read.
I'll be cracking the spine on my copy of The Grapes of Wrath soon! Have YOU read The Grapes of Wrath? On Sept. 22nd, my reading group will be attending the first Big Read Event at the Ridgefield Library where "Dr. Mark Schenker, Associate Dean at Yale, will present a scholarly background lecture on John Steinbeck and "The Grapes of Wrath." Let me know if you're reading something for The Big Read!