Big Read provides dialogue and connects communities |

Big Read provides dialogue and connects communities

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, COLORADO ” The Big Read was started two years ago in ten communities across the country. This weekend, however, the event is making its debut in the Roaring Fork Valley and challenging people to turn a page.

The Aspen Writer’s Foundation in partnership with Pitkin County Library is launching the event with the first of two kick-off parties starting in Carbondale Friday evening. The mission of the program is to promote reading in communities nationwide. The program has grown to over 127 communities since its inception.

“Reading nationwide is in a rapid decline. With today’s youths it’s declining at an alarming rate,” said special projects consultant for the AWF Julie Comins Pickrell. “The idea is to restore reading to the American culture.”

The program was designed by the National Endowment for the Arts as a community-based reading campaign aimed at getting communities involved in reading a single book that will spur discussion within the community.

“Aside from getting people reading again and excited about reading, people are rediscovering literary reading again and that is great,” Pickrell said. “The program is bringing communities together in new ways that don’t have anything to do with reading. The books are just a launching place for community dialogue.”

This year’s focus for Roaring Fork Valley residents is a book by Rudolfo Anaya, titled Bless Me, Ultima. The AWF chose Anaya’s book from a selection provided by the NEA specified for The Big Read because of the bicultural content that is prevalent in the valley.

“We’re thrilled to be sharing and celebrating this beautiful coming-of-age story by one of the American Southwest’s most revered authors,” says AWF executive director Lisa Consiglio. “And we’re especially excited to reach out with this program to our entire community, across cultural, socio-economic, generational and geographic boundaries.”

Kick-off events are designed to spark interest with residents in participating in the event that goes through May 5. These events will also feature Latin music, Mexican food, book giveaways and readings of the selected book performed by best-selling author Luis Alberto Urrea.

“It’s free, it’s food, there will be conversation and community, it’s cross cultural and it’s fun,” Pickrell said.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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