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Thursday, October 01

Brookdale Newsroom

You Can Be Part of The Big Read

Join us in The Big Read, an initiative to inspire citizens, young and older, to read and discuss a single book and participate in a myriad of activities throughout Monmouth County. This spring, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines will take center stage as individuals, classes, book clubs, libraries, and arts agencies come together to read the book, discuss it, and enjoy related films, speakers and arts events. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College (Chhange) has created an all-inclusive, widespread network hoping to engage ALL residents in this exciting project.

Highlights of the Calendar of Events include:

  • Sister Helen Prejean, author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated book Dead Man Walking and outspoken critic of state-sponsored executions
  • Kirk Bloodsworth, first death row inmate to be exonerated by DNA evidence
  • Video conference with author Ernest J. Gaines
  • Film series
  • Dramatic performances of A Lesson Before Dying
  • Growing Up Black in the Segregated South – Testimonies of local residents
  • And much more!!

Programs will run from January –April and take place in locations across the county.

Middle and high school classes are encouraged to participate and may receive a classroom set of the novel, lesson plans, classroom strategies and other materials as part of the initiative. Students will participate in a writing and art contest based on themes from the novel.

Chhange has selected A Lesson Before Dying as The Big Read for Monmouth County because the book’s underlying message resonates with its mission: preserving human dignity and social justice. A Lesson Before Dying offers a painful yet inspirational tale of institutional injustice and personal redemption. A frustrated schoolteacher in 1940s Louisiana tries to give a condemned man back his dignity before he dies. Vivid and compassionate, this novel asks: Knowing we’re going to die, how should we live?

Chhange educates, inspires and empowers students, teachers and community members to take constructive action to address injustice. Since 1979, Chhange’s mission of “eliminating racism, antisemitism, and all forms of prejudice that damage our society” has been carried out through innovative educational programs and by contact with Holocaust and other genocide survivors, members of victim groups, and human rights activists.

For more information about The Big Read and to see the Calendar of Events go to: www.chhange.org. Interested educators should email chhange@brookdalecc.edu. Registration for events begins January 10, 2013!

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.