Troy University selected to host the ‘Big Read’

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 6, 2014

Troy University has received a grant to host The Big Read in Troy.

“The Big Read” is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in the American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment.

Elaine Bassett, Troy University writing center coordinator, said Troy University is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host a “Big Read” project and is the only location in Alabama to be funded.

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“Troy University applied for ‘The Big Read’ grant program because we, as a university and as a community, value the importance of engaged reading in order to develop thoughtful, intelligent citizens of the community and the world,” Bassett said “We believe that reading opens the mind to new information, new ways of looking at situations, new discoveries – in other words, reading simply opens the mind.

“We also believe in the free exchange of ideas and the discussion of ideas, even those that are challenging or controversial. Our hope is that some of our activities will engage both students and community members in conversation about ideas.”

Although reading is usually a solitary activity, “The Big Read” will be a social event.

Bassett said, not only will Troy University play an important role in encouraging reading but will also develop creative opportunities to involve all members of the Troy and Pike County communities to come together to discuss and celebrate great works of literature.

“‘The Big Read’ answers a big need,” Bassett said. “A 2004 report by the NEA found that literary reading in America is declining among all age groups and that rate of decline is accelerating, especially among the young.’

“The Big Read” supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences.

Bassett said “The Big Read” in Troy will kick off on Sept. 16 and will offer opportunities to get together to read and share ideas. “The Big Read” will focus on “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.

Bassett said “Fahrenheit 451” is a good book to kick off “The Big Read” because it deals with censorship and the banning of books.

“‘Fahrenheit 451’ is a book about books and the ideas in those books,” she said. “We chose ‘Fahrenheit 451’ because it touches on the importance of being engaged in ideas and because it lets us see what the world would be if books and thoughts were illegal.

In today’s world, many people of all ages, are tied to “technology” and have little time or energy for thoughtful engagement, Basset said.

“By fostering open discussions of ‘Fahrenheit 45,’ we hope to help Troy unplug from technology and be a part of the conversation about books and ideas. We encourage those who enjoy reading and exchanging ideas to join us from 7 until 9 p.m. on Sept. 16 at the Johnson Center for the first ‘Big Read.’”

“Fahrenheit 451” will be featured at “The Big Read” Film Festival on Sept. 23 at Patterson 101 on the Troy University campus with Dr. Maryjo Cochran as the discussion leader.