HOLLAND — For the sixth consecutive year, Hope College is receiving a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts for Big Read Lakeshore. New this year is a second grant, this one from Michigan Humanities, which will provide funding for a Little Read Lakeshore.
Big Read Lakeshore is a program for community members, including high school and college students, to share ideas and hold discussions around a selected book.
This year, Big Read Lakeshore will feature “In the Time of the Butterflies,” by Julia Alvarez for programs and discussions in October and November. The novel is a historical account of courage, love and the human cost of political oppression.
The title was chosen from a list of books provided by the NEA. NEA Big Read Lakeshore Director Deb Van Duinen, Associate Professor of Education at Hope College, said Big Read Lakeshore was looking for a book which could connect with Holland’s Hispanic population.
“First, it is the 25th anniversary of the book, so that was cool,” she said. “We also wanted to choose a book written by a Latina author that was available in Spanish as a way to make more connections with our Hispanic community.”
There is a separate book for middle school students as well, and the Little Read Lakeshore will provide a formal program for young readers in the area.
“We’ve done aspects of youth programming through the years, but never anything formalized,” Van Duinen said. “We received a lot of feedback from parents with young children who said ‘We want to participate, what can we do with younger kids?’
“Ultimately, this is a response to how people have responded to the Big Read.”
The middle school group will also read an Alvarez title — “Before We Were Free.” The middle school and Big Read books are set in the Dominican Republic during the regime of long-time dictator, Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo.
The Little Read Lakeshore will feature “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet,” by Carmen Agra Deedy, with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. It follows a rooster opposed to a new law that bans singing.
Van Duinen said while there was no specific list to pick from for the Little Read book, they wanted something that fit in with the themes and topics of the Big Read.
Festivities for the 2019 Big Read and Little Read will kickoff on Monday, Oct. 28.
“We’ll have three TED-style talks by Hope College professors who will talk about the book,” Van Duinen said. “It’s sort of way to preview the book or encourage folks to read it again and to read it more deeply.”
More details will be announced in the fall, but events will include keynote addresses by both Julia Alvarez and Carmen Agra Deedy and a showcase of student artwork.
“During the month of November, we’ll probably have 25 different events that people can participate in,” Van Duinen said. “We’re excited to have both authors coming to speak. Julia Alvarez will come to Hope for two lectures, one for students and one for the public. Carmen Agra Deedy will also be coming to schools in the area and Herrick District Library.
“Of course there is the student exhibition of learning, that’s the first time we show the artwork from students, inspired by the readings. Having the authors come is wonderful, but I would say that’s the highlight, with artwork from hundreds or thousands of students.”
Hope College is one of 78 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant for an NEA Big Read project between September 2019 and June 2020, and one of 16 programs to receive the Humanities Grant funding from Michigan Humanities in this grant cycle.
The grants are for $15,000 and come with a one-to-one match that will be funded by Hope College and various program partners.
More information on the NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore, including events and past titles, can be found on Hope College’s website.
— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.