National Endowment for the Arts Announces New Books
Washington, DC -- Communities looking to rekindle their love of reading by joining the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reading initiative The Big Read will now have even more great books to choose from. Today the NEA announced the addition of four new selections to The Big Read library: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town by Thornton Wilder, and a special collection of poetry and short fiction by Edgar Allan Poe. These titles will be available for Big Read grant projects taking place from September 2009-June 2010.
The Big Read library currently features 22 novels; a complete list is available at www.neabigread.org. Several U.S. publishers, including Random House, Picador, and Grand Central Publishing, are supporting The Big Read by identifying select titles with an official Big Read seal. The NEA chooses new books for The Big Read in consultation with the Readers Circle, a distinguished group of 22 writers, scholars, librarians, critics, artists, and publishing professionals.
About The Big Read
The Big Read provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. By 2009, the NEA will have funded more than 500 Big Read projects in the nation's towns and cities. The initiative comprises innovative reading programs in selected communities; expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, including broadcast and print publicity; compelling resources for discussing outstanding literature; and an extensive Web site offering comprehensive information about the featured Big Read authors and their works.
Each community's Big Read includes a kick-off, activities devoted specifically to its Big Read selection (e.g. panel discussions, lectures, public readings), events using the book 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.
Communities that participate in The Big Read receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title. Reader's guides include features such as author biographies, historical context for the novel, and discussion questions. Teacher's guides adhere to National Council of Teachers of English standards and include lesson plans, essay topics, and reproducible handouts. The Big Read audio guides, which also can be used as radio programming, feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures.
The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Big Read in the Pacific Northwest is also supported, in part, by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
About the new titles for The Big Read
Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich's first novel, joins the list for her stirringly humane attention to lives on the margin and voices little heard.
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a contemporary look at the consequences of war and the arguably redemptive uses of storytelling.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder is a timeless and timely study of seemingly random human mortality. Communities celebrating Wilder for their Big Read project will be encouraged to enrich their programming with a production of Our Town, Wilder's enduring dramatic study of life in a small town.
A special collection of Edgar Allan Poe's short fiction and poetry will acquaint cities and towns with this titan of American literature who pioneered both the horror story and detective fiction, and whose verse marks the first appearance of poetry on the national Big Read list.
On June 16, the NEA will announce more than 200 organizations that will host The Big Read in their communities from September 2008-June 2009. Application guidelines for the next grant cycle, September 2009-June 2010, will be available at www.neabigread.org in fall 2008.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established, bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For more information please visit www.imls.gov.
Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit www.artsmidwest.org.
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