The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A REPORT FROM THE FIELD: Kennesaw State University

Washington, DC

Carson McCullers portrait by Carl Van Vechten, July 1959 from Library of Congress collection

When the Center for Conflict Management at Georgia?s Kennesaw State University joined forces with the Paulding County Library to present their first Big Read, choosing Carson?s McCullers? The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was an easy decision. Shauna Carmichael, program manager at the Center for Conflict Management said, ?Carson McCullers was born in Georgia, and her book is set in a small Georgia town not unlike those in our service area.?

But organizers also saw an important opportunity with The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter to discuss issues of accessibility within their community. In addition to a film series including movies such as The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, My Sister?s Keeper, I Am Sam, and The Other Sister, the Georgia Radio Reading Service broadcast a reading of the novel to enhance the ability of people who do not use traditional print or have low vision to participate in The Big Read. 

Community members in Kennesaw were also encouraged to attend panels around issues of accessibility, such as Living Beyond Disability: Making Recreation Accessible, an opportunity for discussion about creating social and recreational opportunities for people with disabilities, and a panel on mental health care in Georgia. Carmichael said, ?Drawing inspiration from the plight of John Singer and his friend Spiros Antonapoulos, we also held a panel to compare attitudes towards the physically disabled and those with mental illnesses in the 1940s and the present.?

Organizers also involved the area youth with Celebrating Abilities: The Big Read Youth Day, an event featuring a service dog demonstration, performances by Laughing Matters Improv & Daniel Skandera, storytelling, sign language, activities, and crafts.

Communities across the nation are using The Big Read as an opportunity to discuss complex issues in an open environment. Tell us about how your community has used The Big Read to open lines of communication in the comments section below.

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