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February 18, 2009 > The Big Read

The Big Read

Submitted By Sean Reinhart

National Endowment from the Arts (NEA) awarded a $15,000 grant to Hayward Public Library to conduct a city-wide reading program called The Big Read. The Big Read was created by NEA after a 2004 study of adult reading habits, Reading at Risk, reported significant declines in reading among adults over the past 20 years. "This report documents a national crisis," stated NEA Chairman Dana Gioia in response to these findings. To reverse this alarming trend, The Big Read was initiated to provide libraries across America resources and funding to conduct city-wide reading programs, with the goal of restoring reading and literacy to the center of American culture.

The Big Read kicks off in Hayward on Thursday, March 5th with "The Big Read-A-Thon," a cover-to-cover public reading of the featured Big Read book, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. Over 50 readers will take turns to recite a few pages each - including members of City Council and the Mayor of Hayward along with dozens of other local students, authors, teachers, and Hayward residents. KCTH-TV will film the event in its entirety for later rebroadcast on local cable channel 27. (Check local listings for times.) The event will take place from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Eon Coffee, 24970 Hesperian Blvd (near Chabot College).

Other Big Read activities during the month of March include the free distribution of over 800 copies of A Lesson Before Dying to Hayward area high schools for use in the classroom during The Big Read. The books were paid for by the NEA grant.

Over 15 events are scheduled during March for The Big Read, including three author talks: Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River, an Oprah Book Club selection, at the downtown Hayward Library on March 11; Ernest Gaines, author of A Lesson Before Dying live from Louisiana via the web at CSUEB on March 19; and Brian Copeland, creator of the hit one man show "Not A Genuine Black Man" at Chabot College on March 24.

For complete information about The Big Read in Hayward, call Hayward Public Library at (510) 881-7980, or visit the website:

The Big Read
Thursday, March 5
12 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Eon Coffee
24970 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 881-7980

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