Written by Staff
In Big Read author Ursula K. Le Guin's The Wave in the Mind she writes, "To me a novel can be as beautiful as any symphony, as beautiful as the sea."
As part of the eighth year of The Big Read, communities across the country will have the opportunity to experience the beauty and explore the depths of a great work of literature. NEA Chairman Joan Shigekawa recently announced that 77 nonprofit organizations will receive grants totaling $1 million to host a Big Read project between September 2013 and June 2014. Managed by Arts Midwest, The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.
“It's wonderful to see that these 77 communities are making reading and the celebration of books a priority,” NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said. “I look forward to seeing the innovative ways they find to engage their communities in these great works of classic and contemporary literature."
One of the recipients of the NEA grants is the Irving Public Library, which received $16,000 to bring the literary classic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, to readers this summer.
The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature, such as A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, and the poetry of Emily Dickinson, as well as three new additions for 2013-2014: Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, Charles Portis's True Grit, and Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North.
Among the organizations receiving a Big Read grant are arts and humanities councils, libraries, museums, theater companies, and universities. The selected organizations will receive Big Read grants ranging from $3,000 to $17,300 to promote and carry out community-based programs. Among these 77 organizations, 24 are first-time Big Read grantees.
Each community’s Big Read includes a kick-off event to launch the program; activities devoted specifically to its Big Read book or poet (e.g., panel discussions, lectures, public readings); events using the selection as a point of departure (e.g., film screenings, theatrical readings, exhibits); and book discussions in diverse locations aimed at a wide range of audiences.
Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, which also are available for download on neabigread.org. Reader’s Guides include author biographies, historical context for the book, and discussion questions. Teacher’s Guides are developed with the National Council of Teachers of English and State Language Arts standards in mind and include lesson plans, essay topics, and classroom handouts. The Big Read Audio Guides feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures such as Garrison Keillor and Ed Harris, and Big Read authors such as Tobias Wolff and Louise Erdrich.
Source: The National Endowment for the Arts