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The Big Read Grant to Have Big Impact on Hiram College Community Reading Program

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Hiram – The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature at Hiram College wants you to curl up with a good book. A book titled “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea, to be specific.

The Center, along with its partners—which include three library systems, four high schools and many Hiram College academic departments—will a host a campus and community-wide reading program based around the book in September and October, thanks to a $15,000 Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which is the third the College has received from the organization.

Started by the NEA in 2006, The Big Read supports community reading programs by funding grants and providing educational resources and promotional materials. Events hosted by grant recipients include author readings, book discussions, performances and more.

“One of the key missions of the Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature is reinforcing the value of reading and literature in today’s technology-driven society,” said Kirsten Parkinson, Center director, Hiram College English professor and John S. Kenyon Chair in English. “The Big Read allows us to work with partners across Hiram College and in the wider community to spread that message through books that are fun, accessible, and closely tied to pertinent social issues.”

One of the pertinent social issues that will be tied to the reading program will also serve as the College’s annual ethics theme. This year’s theme, which will be explored through scientific, political, historical and socioeconomic contexts, among others, is borders.

While first-year students will begin reading the book over the summer as part of their common reading requirement, Hiram College’s Big Read officially kicks off with the ethics program’s annual teach-in which provides a forum for the community to discuss a variety of topics related to the ethics theme.

“By connecting multiple campus and off-campus events to the first-year common reading and to this year’s ethics theme of borders, students will have many opportunities to take their learning beyond the classroom and see how a work of literature has relevance to the larger world,” said Parkinson.

In addition to the grant from the NEA, Hiram College received a grant from Hiram Community Trust that will provide copies of “Into the Beautiful North” to local community members, including high school students at Crestwood and James A. Garfield, as well as a grant from the Hiram Women’s Council that covers the cost of books for faculty who will be teaching the book to first-year students in the fall.