The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.
A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the NEA, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively. It provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The initiative includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature, and an extensive website providing comprehensive information on authors and their works.
According to the Big Read website, there is "perhaps no better way for two nations to learn about one another than through sharing their stories. Sun, Stone, and Shadows presents a superb selection of the finest Mexican short stories of the twentieth century. No one can read this arresting volume without experiencing the wonder and surprise of discovery."
The Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received a $15,150 grant from
the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to promote and host Big Read programs between September
2009 and June 2010.
The Big Read is an initiative of NEA, designed to bring communities together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.
The University Library was chosen to highlight Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories edited by Jorge F. Hernández. The anthology presents a selection of the finest Mexican short stories ever written, and offers a glimpse into a diverse and fascinating culture. Authors include Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, and Carlos Fuentes.
The University of Illinois Library was one of 269 communities selected for the 2009-2010 Big Read grant. It will receive high-quality educational materials to supplement Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories, including reader’s guides, teacher’s guides, and audio guides—free-of-charge.
“The NEA Big Read program exemplifies how literacy and reading can really bring together people in the community,” said Emily Love, outreach librarian for multicultural services and assistant professor of library administration at the University’s Undergraduate Library. “The Maltese Falcon and The Death of Ivan Ilyich were highlighted locally in recent years. We’re looking forward to an exciting series of public events in 2010 with Sun, Stone, and Shadows.”
The University Library will launch its program with a kick-off event on April 1st, 2010. It will partner with the University of Illinois Alumni Association, local schools and media, and many community partners, including the Champaign Public Library, the Urbana Free Library, and the Latino Partnership of Champaign. Other Big Read programming events will include public readings, a film screening, lectures, book discussions, and a photographic exhibition, “Life in a Border Town,” on loan from South Texas College.
Contact Emily Love at email@example.com or (217) 333-3285 for information relevant to the University Library’s participation in the 2009-2010 Big Read initiative.
For more information about The Big Read, visit www.neabigread.org.