UNION – Kean University will launch its Big Read program with a kick-off celebration on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 3:30 p.m. in the University Center Atrium, located on the main campus at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Kean University received a grant from the NEA to host The Big Read and is one of 268 communities nationwide participating in the initiative through June 2010. The program gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature. To date, the NEA has funded more than 800 Big Read programs in the nation’s towns and cities.
“According to a study released by the NEA, fewer than half of American adults read literature and that number continues to decline,” said Dr. Mia Zamora, assistant professor in the Department of English at Kean who secured the grant. “Our goal is to reach reluctant readers, and have them experience the power and pleasure of recreational reading regardless of their age.”
As host of The Big Read, Kean University will carry out an extensive community-based reading program. Participants will be required to read “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, and engage in various activities, including discussions, lectures, movie screenings and performing arts events.
Far from a combat story of pride and glory, “The Things They Carried” is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection. It challenges readers to ponder larger philosophical questions about truth and memory, and brings the reader closer to the emotional core of the soldier’s experiences.
The Big Read scheduled events include:
• Wednesday, February 10, Elizabeth Public Library, 10 a.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of “Platoon.”
• Thursday, February 11, Elizabeth Public Library, Elmora Branch, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Book discussion of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.
• Thursday, February 11, Elizabeth Public Library, Elmora Branch, 5 p.m.; Teen book discussion of “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.
• Thursday, February 18, Kean University, CAS Room 106, 2:30 p.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of Vietnam Soldiers’ Story: Invisible Enemy.
• Wednesday, February 24, Elizabeth Public Library, 10 a.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
• Thursday, March 4, Kean University, CAS Room 106, 2:30 p.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of “The Fog of War.”
• Friday, March 5, Elizabeth Public Library, Main Library Auditorium, 5 p.m.; Teen book discussion of “Refresh, Refresh” by Danica Novgorodoff.
• Wednesday, March 10, Elizabeth Public Library, 10 a.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of “Rescue Dawn.”
• Saturday, March 13, Elizabeth Public Library, 2 p.m.; The Women’s Perspective on the Vietnam War: A discussion of “A Piece of My Heart” by Keith Walker.
• Wednesday, March 24, Kean University, CAS Room 106, 2:30 p.m.; Vietnam War Film Series: Viewing of “Apocalypse Now.”
• Thursday, March 25, Kean University’s Little Theater (University Center), 12:30 p.m.; Theatre production of “The Things They Carried” by the American Place Theater Company.
• Monday, March 29, Elizabeth Public Library, 7 p.m.; Elizabeth Public Library Veterans Panel: Veteran Perspectives on the Vietnam War.
• Thursday, April 8, Kean University, CAS Room 106, 2:30 p.m.; Kean Faculty & Student Veterans Panel: A Comparative Discussion of Combat, Now & Then.
• April 14, Kean University, Wilkins Theater, 12:30 p.m.; A reading and talk by author Tim O’Brien.
• Throughout the month of March at the Elizabeth Public Library; The Little Read children’s programming in conjunction with The Big Read will take place, including story time gatherings, arts & crafts and a celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. Books to be featured include “Ten Mice for Tet,” “How Tiger Got His Stripes: A Folktale from Vietnam,” and “Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam.”
Kean University has partnered with the Elizabeth Public Library as well as local veterans organizations in the initiative, and has expanded its effort to work with teachers at local high schools to encourage participation in the program.
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