Susan McComas, director of the Scioto Couny Literacy Council and coordinator of the Big Read project, also has announced David Kipen, literature director for the National Endowment for the Arts, will be a special guest.
The Big Read is an initiative of NEA in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is the book that has been chosen as the focus for Scioto County’s Big Read.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, there has been as much as a 28 percent decline in reading proficiency test scores from third- to sixth-grade in Scioto County.
McComas said with a national project such as The Big Read, the NEA is responding to the critical drop in reading interest, not just in Scioto County, but across America.
Additionally, McComas said Big Read was developed by the NEA as a result of a study that revealed a decline in literary readers across America. The Big Read aims to address this issue, she said, by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.
Activities are scheduled throughout a three-month period in Scioto County — February, March and April.
The Talented and Gifted Program will have an artist-in-residence program with a core group of students performing vignettes of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” These performances will take place at area schools and at Southern Ohio Museum.
McComas said Portsmouth Public Library also has put together different topics to tie in with “To Kill a Mockingbird” or with that era, such as “Social Classes: Hollywood’s Vision of Small-Town” and “One-Hit Wonders: One Author, One Famous.”
Along with book discussions, library programs and panel discussions, students from the Center for Alternative Progressive Education will participate in events, along with the Scioto County Dentention Center and the Ohio River Valley Youth Detention Center.
Other activities include public film showings, readers theatre and reading on the radio through the Reading Service for the Blind, McComas said.
The Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association, who submitted the grant to NEA for the Big Read, also has scheduled the Montana Repertory Theater to perform “To Kill a Mockingbird” in April at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234.