The Big Read

Series produced by National Endowment for the Arts

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The Big Read initiative was created to inspire people to read more great literature. As part of this program, the NEA produced several half-hour audio documentaries to accompany print materials.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain.

The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively. It provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. It includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature and an extensive Web site providing comprehensive information on authors and their works.

Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.

The NEA inaugurated The Big Read as a pilot project in 2006 with ten communities featuring four books. The Big Read continues to expand to include more communities and additional books. By June 2010, more than 951 grants have been awarded to communities in the U.S. to host Big Reads since the program's 2007 national launch. Hide full description

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain. The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and... Show full description


26 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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Meet Sam Spade, detective, lady-killer. Before it became a classic film, it was first an incredible moral tale of crime and deception. Find out why.

Bought by KMUN, KPIP-LP, KQED, WXAV 88.3FM, KRZA and more


  • Added: Aug 12, 2011
  • Length: 29:17
  • Purchases: 6
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A half-hour audio program that explores Amy Tan's gripping, The Joy Luck Club. It features Amy Tan and readings by actress Ming-Na from the film ad...

Bought by KMUN, KPIP-LP, KQED, and KRZA


  • Added: Aug 12, 2011
  • Length: 28:55
  • Purchases: 4
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A beloved American classic, Willa Cather's My Ántonia is best summarized by its epigraph---"the best days are the first to flee." Garrison Keillor ...

Bought by KMUN, KPIP-LP, and KQED


  • Added: Aug 12, 2011
  • Length: 28:58
  • Purchases: 3
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Featuring commentary by actor Robert Duvall, playwright Horton Foote, NEA Jazz Master David Baker, and Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, among ot...

Bought by Prairie Public, KMUN, KPIP-LP, KPTZ, Port Townsend, WA, KMUN and more


  • Added: Aug 12, 2011
  • Length: 29:17
  • Purchases: 18
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In this half-hour radio show, we'll explore Bradbury's terrifying vision of a future without books as we discuss his groundbreaking 1953 novel, Fah...

Bought by WKMS, KMUN, KFAI, KMUD, KPIP-LP and more


  • Added: Aug 12, 2011
  • Length: 28:51
  • Purchases: 12
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Actor Ed Harris reads from one of his favorite novels, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath---an epic story about the Great Depression told through...

Bought by KMUN, KQED, KRZA, KUCB, and PRX Remix


  • Added: Aug 16, 2011
  • Length: 28:44
  • Purchases: 5