Friday, May 30, 2014
NEA Awards Hope College a "Big Read" Grant to Support Community Program
A grant to Hope College through the
“Big Read” program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will support a
broad-based effort to encourage reading community-wide during the month of
November. The NEA awarded Hope $16,000 for the Holland-area event. Hope and the other participating organizations will match the grant with additional financial and in-kind support.
“The Big Read,” which is managed by
Arts Midwest, is designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture
by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read
for pleasure. Hope is one of only 77 non-profit organizations nationwide
to receive a grant to host a “Big Read” project between September 2014 and June
The Holland-area program will focus on
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee.
Hope is partnering with Herrick District Library, the Holland Museum,
five area schools and others to organize reading groups and schedule a variety
of related events throughout the month.
“The Big Read” provides communities
nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 36
selections from U.S. and world literature. The 77 selected organizations will
receive Big Read grants to promote and carry out community-based reading
programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures,
movie screenings, and performing arts events. The NEA has also developed
high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title,
including reader’s guides, teacher’s guides, and audio programming, all of
which are available to the public at neabigread.org.
The Hope grant’s administrator, Dr. Deborah
Van Duinen of the college’s Education faculty, believes that reading and
discussing the award-winning “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the related activities
will be an engaging and meaningful experience for participants of all ages,
from teen through retiree. A specialist in adolescent literacy and
young-adult literature, she even guided students through “To Kill a
Mockingbird” as a high school teacher herself before transitioning to higher
“This Pulitzer Prize-winning book deals
with many different issues—coming of age, race, class, justice, ethical values.
These issues are just as relevant to us today as when the book was
written in 1960,” said Van Duinen, an assistant professor of Education.