Irving's Big Read 2014

The Irving Public Library is proud to be a community read organizer for the past nine years, and a National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read" grant recipient for seven years. This program's success is made possible through the support of community organizers and sponsors include the Friends of Irving Public Library, City of Irving, Irving Parks and Recreation, Irving Independent School District, Irving Heritage Society, and the National Scouting Museum.

The Big Read program 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 and enrichment. From late September through October, residents can pick up a free copy of this year's selected novel, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and a free Reader's Guide at any of the four Irving Public Libraries, and at special events, while supplies last. Free copies of the novel and Reader's Guide will be available in Spanish. In addition to the Irving community reading To Kill a Mockingbird, all ninth grade students in Irving ISD will be reading the novel in October.

This year's selection To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is the story of the moral awakening of Scout, a preteen girl and her father Atticus, a lawyer chosen to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman in a racially charged community in the Depression-era American South. The novel presents themes of racial injustice, class, courage and compassion, and the loss of innocence. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and it has been translated into 40 languages and sold 30 million copies. The 1962 movie adaptation won the Academy Award for best Actor (Gregory Peck) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Horton Foote). The novel continues to be one of the most widely read books by American high school students.

An alternative book has been selected for younger readers - The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. The novel follows ten year old Kenny and his family as they travel from Flint, Michigan, to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama. The novel has also won accolades, honored by both the John Newbery and Coretta Scott King award committees. Mr. Curtis will be visiting the Irving area in October, and the Valley Ranch location will be hosting an appearance on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

Adults, teens and children are encouraged to discuss either book at one of the library's book clubs. During the Big Read Irving Public Library is also hosting a scholar, a student-led mock trial, a class on Southern cooking, and special story times for young children. Check the Big Read 2014 News and Calendar page for details.