West Chester University, along with members of the borough community, is participating in a program called “The Big Read” this semester.”The Big Read” is a national book club funded by the National Endowment for the Arts that promotes the importance of reading and literacy throughout various communities.
The program provides participating communities with a list of books and communities choose one to focus on throughout the duration of the program.
In the West Chester area, 190 people are participating in “The Big Read,” including classes at all three area high schools, the West Chester Historical Society and the West Chester Public Library.
Eight classes in a variety of departments are also reading the novel as part of their curriculum this semester.
To advertise, department representatives set up a booth at the Restaurant Festival last month where 90 people registered. According to Dr. Victoria Tischio, this book was chosen because of the short story format.
“It is easier to fit into a busy schedule,” Tischio said.
Here at WCU the Big Read, which is in its second year in the West Chester community, is lead by English professor Dr. Tischio and reference librarian Mame Purce.
This year they have selected a book of Mexican short stories called “Sun, Stone and Shadows,” which features works by various authors of Hispanic origin.
Similarly, last year the program focused on the novel “Like Water for Chocolate” also centered around Hispanic heritage. The program takes place in the fall semester because Oct. is Hispanic Heritage month.
“The Big Read” here in West Chester does not consist of simply reading the book on your own. Throughout the semester there are a plethora of events to accompany the reading.
These events kicked off with a Mexican Dinner on campus in early September. Shortly after the kick off, the West Chester Public Library hosted a piñata-making workshop, where participants learned how to make traditional Mexican piñatas.
The three local high schools involved also hosted events including dramatic readings and discussions. In addition to being facilitated by Dr. Tischio, many of the events throughout the duration of the program are co-facilitated by students who each picked a story to focus on.
Since the program is open to a wide age range many events are tailored to fit a the needs of certain age groups. This past Friday, in the spirit of the Phillies recent NCLS win, the book club is hosting a Phillies Fan Club discussion focusing on the story “The Night of Margaret Rose.”
Those who attend have a chance to win Phillies prizes.
On October 29 there will be a dramatic reading featuring the short stories “The Mist” and “My Life as a Wave.” This will take place in the FHG library on the 6th floor.
The Big Read was brought to WCU to advocate to college age students the importance of reading for pleasure and as yet another way students can be involved.
“College age students are reading for pleasure less and less. It’s a way for students to get involved not just on campus, but in the community,” Dr. Tischio said.
“Students get to interact with the community in a positive and productive way. Also it brings out an appreciation of Hispanic heritage month.”
Tischio is not certain yet if WCU is going to participate in the program next year, but students can visit NEABigRead.org for more information.
Samantha Greenberg is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at SG655862@wcupa.edu.