National Endowment for the Arts Announces Application Guidelines for 2014-2015 Big Read

Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine are newest additions to The Big Read Library

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Book covers for Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine

Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine are the newest additions to The Big Read library for 2014-2015.

Washington, DC—Applications are now being accepted for 2014-2015 Big Read grants. The Big Read, managed by Arts Midwest, provides nonprofit organizations nationwide with comprehensive resources to help inspire their communities to read and discuss a single book or poet’s body of work. To continue providing a wide range of literature selections and voices, two new titles will be available for communities taking part in the 2014-2015 Big Read. The new additions are Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine, bringing the Big Read library to 36 selections from American and world literature.  

These two novels were chosen through a reading committee representing a range of voices from the field—including librarians, writers, booksellers, publishers, and previous Big Read grantees—who read and evaluated suggested titles based on criteria such as the universal appeal of themes, capacity to incite lively and deep discussion, and a focus on expanding the range of voices and stories currently represented in The Big Read library.

Organizations interested in applying for a 2014-2015 Big Read grant should visit The Big Read website for guidelines and application instructions. Eligible organizations may apply for a grant ranging from $2,500 to $20,000. All applications must be submitted electronically via eGrant on or before 4:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

High-quality, free-of-charge educational materials supplement each Big Read title, and are available for selected organizations and the public to access on 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 Vijay Iyer and Mary-Louise Parker, and Big Read authors such as Ernest Gaines and Cynthia Ozick.

For more information about The Big Read please visit

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives. Based in Minneapolis, 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



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