The Big Read comes to the Blount County Public Library

Bonny Millard and Sara Baker show the literature and information available for The Big Read.

Bonny Millard and Sara Baker show the literature and information available for The Big Read.


Hannah Harper and Dylan DePonte promote the Big Read at Last Friday Art Walk with a characterization from the Big Read book, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Hannah Harper and Dylan DePonte promote the Big Read at Last Friday Art Walk with a characterization from the Big Read book, “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The Big Read national reading initiative comes to the Blount County Public Library on Oct. 7 as a World War II veteran and Great Depression survivor leads a discussion on the John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath.

The Big Read, an initiative to encourage reading, made its debut in Blount County Sept. 26 at Southland Books during the Last Friday Art Walk in downtown Maryville.

“The Culture of Poverty” is a discussion led by Carpenters Middle School Assistant Principal Mike Crabtree. He will discuss issues reflected in the book, “A Framework for Understanding Poverty” by Dr. Ruby K. Payne, and tied into “The Grapes of Wrath.” Clayton Narveson, a World War II veteran who grew up during the Great Depression, will share personal stories of his family’s survival. This event will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Blount County Public Library.

The Blount County Public Library, the Blount Education Initiative and Maryville College have partnered with YWCA Knoxville and the Knox County Public Library to make the national initiative a regional event. In addition, Southland Books, Senior Services at Blount Memorial Hospital and Blount area school systems have joined in to present The Big Read.

The regional event is month-long discussion of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” in Blount, Knox and Anderson counties.

The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest, encourages communities to promote reading. “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of 20 books that can be chosen for the annual.

As part of the YWCA Knoxville’s mission for promoting social justice, “The Grapes of Wrath” was selected because the novel’s themes are still relevant today. Threats of economic and ecological disaster loom in today’s world just as it did in the Joads’ world. Poverty, migration and prejudice remain ever present in our society, and this novel provides a platform for discussion.

Several events are planned in the three counties for the month of October. A calendar of all regional events will be available at Southland Books.

Events in Blount County for the Big Read include:

• Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham will participate in a discussion group with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Knoxville City County Building. The discussion will be featured on Community Television.

• “Successful Budgeting in an Economic Slump” will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the library. Sherri Hagood, a Certified Dave Ramsey Financial Counselor, will offer advice on surviving turbulent economic times. Questions from the audience will be welcome.

• The keynote event will include a discussion of the literary and historical perspectives of the novel. Dr. Ron Wells, director of the Maryville Symposium, and Dr. Will Phillips, associate professor of English at Maryville College, offer historical and literary perspectives of “The Grapes of Wrath” in an approachable and thought-provoking discussion. Dr. Wells and Dr. Phillips will lead the conversation and invite questions from the audience. The event will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in the Lawson Auditorium, Fayerweather Hall, on the Maryville College campus.

• The Palace Theater will show the film version of the “Grapes of Wrath,” starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, closing out a month of celebrating The Big Read. The screening will be at 9 p.m. Oct. 31, after the Last Friday Art Walk.

For all of the Blount County events, participants are asked to bring in canned goods or nonperishable food items to donate to our local food pantries. Items collected during this month will be donated to the Community Food Connection and the Blount County Food Pantry. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact Bonny Millard at 865.273.1210 or bonny@blounteducation.org.

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