Feature by Leigh Kaliss | Photography by Sollivan Photography
Lancaster Public Library and the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County kicked off the NEA Big Read by hosting September’s First Thursday Latino at the library. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Lancaster Public Library is one of 75 nonprofit organizations nationwide, and the only organization in Pennsylvania, to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community-reading program between September 2017 and June 2018. The NEA Big Read in Lancaster will focus on “Into the Beautiful North” by Luís Alberto Urrea. The novel tells the story of Nayeli, a nineteen-year-old who works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US when she was young.
The NEA Big Read Kick-Off opened with a warm welcome from First Thursday Latino founder and leader, Norman Bristol Colón. Lancaster Public Library Executive Director Heather Sharpe acknowledged the tremendous effort put forth by many to bring the NEA Big Read to Lancaster County. In addition, she announced plans to host a community event in conjunction with a visit from author Luís Alberto Urrea in May 2018. League of Women Voters of Lancaster County President Fran Rodriguez credited the NEA Big Read and “Into the Beautiful North” for providing the opening to focus on an issue reflected in our community and an opportunity to talk about immigration in profound ways. The Kick-Off featured a bilingual reading of “Into the Beautiful North”, and portraits from the InVISIBLE Americans exhibit served as a backdrop for the event. InVISIBILE Americans is a photo series that gives insight on what it is like to be an immigrant in America.
The NEA Big Read Committee has developed a unique plan to celebrate “Into the Beautiful North”. Book discussions will be hosted at several organizations throughout the community beginning during National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). Through these discussions, participants will take the themes and topics of “Into the Beautiful North” and relate them to their experiences in Lancaster County, current events as well as other literature, art, and films. For more details, visit: lancasterpubliclibrary.org/neabigread.
NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.
El proyecto NEA Big Read es una iniciativa del National Endowment for the Arts (el Fondo Nacional para las Artes de Estados Unidos) en cooperación con Arts Midwest.