National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2008 Plans for the Big Read National Reading Program
Nine new books join Big Read library
Communities in Russia to Join the Big Read to Celebrate To Kill a Mockingbird
NEA Receives $200,000 grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
April 19, 2007
Washington, DC -- Today National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Dana Gioia announced the agency's plans for expanding the national Big Read program for 2008 including introducing the Big Read to Russia, adding nine new books to the Big Read library, and using a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to support the Big Read in communities in the Pacific Northwest.
"It's particularly fitting that we are gathered in the nation's capital to celebrate a great work of literature. What's so powerful about literature is the way it can cross boundaries, both those within and outside of our own communities," said Chairman Gioia. "I am delighted that the success of the Big Read will enable us to bring even more examples of America's great literary heritage to our nation's citizens as well as citizens of other nations."
Speaking at the launch for the Washington, DC Big Read celebration of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, hosted by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, Chairman Gioia also announced a partnership with the Council to support a Big Read program for DC Youth Rehabilitation Services. That partnership will support Big Read activities around Hurston's novel at the Oak Hill Youth Center in Laurel, Maryland.
"I have made it a cornerstone of my tenure as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts to bring the arts to all Americans, including those populations that are often underserved in the arts, such as the military. I am delighted that through this partnership with the Humanities Council -- and the best programs are born from great partnerships -- the Big Read will be able to bring the transformative power of literature to yet another community of Americans," said the NEA Chairman.
Chairman Gioia also revealed plans to bring the Big Read to Russia to celebrate Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. In preparation for the program's October launch, delegates from the Russian regions of Saratov and Ivanovo are visiting Asheville, North Carolina, and Huntsville, Alabama, this April to participate in a range of local Big Read activities. The delegates, who are supported through a partnership with the Open World Leadership Center and hosted by CEC Arts Link, started their visit in DC where they attended an introductory session on the Big Read at the Arts Endowment and toured local museums and sites. U.S. communities that would like to participate in the cross-cultural Big Read can choose to read The Death of Ivan Ilyich, a novella by 19th-century Russian author Leo Tolstoy.
Several other additions to the Big Read library also were announced at the event. They are: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines; Washington Square by Henry James; A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin; The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; and Old School by Tobias Wolff.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London will join the Big Read library thanks to a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. The grant of $200,000 will support the Big Read in Northwest communities from September-December 2007 and in 2008 as well as the production of resource materials for London's classic novel.
A ninth Big Read novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, was previously announced on April 16 by Big Read Honorary Chair Mrs. Laura Bush during an event in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which has partnered with Norwalk, Shelton, and Stamford, to host a Big Read program.
The NEA will announce the names of those communities participating in the Big Read from September-December 2007 on June 25. It's expected that more than 200 communities, including the nation's capital, will have participated in the Big Read by the end of 2007.
Application and guideline materials for the 2008 Big Read will be available at www.neabigread.org on April 23. The application deadline is July 31, 2007, for communities wishing to host a Big Read program between January and June 2008.
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents the Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read for military communities is made possible by The Boeing Company. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency