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Big Read promotes literature

The Fresno County Library hopes to enlighten Fresno citizens by bringing the power of literature into the lives of the community. The Fresno County Library system is sponsoring the 2nd annual ?Big Read? to promote the importance of literature in pop culture.

?The Big Read? is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest and is sponsored by a variety of major companies. By participating in this nation wide program, communities are connected by literary reading and discussion of one book.

From March 5 through April 6 communities will read and discuss To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic novel published in 1960 by Harper Lee.

To Kill a Mockingbird, is a story of Scout, a young girl growing up in the depression era with her older brother, Jem. The children find themselves caught in an intolerant society where an African-American man, Tom Robinson, is being accused of raping a white girl.

Their father Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is set to defend Tom against his alleged crime. As a result of his representation of Tom his neighbors develop a growing resentment and prejudice towards Atticus and his family.

Throughout the story the children develop a friendship with a quiet and unspoken neighbor, Boo Radley. He is a mysterious character victimized by town gossip, which incites fear and leads him to hide in his house for the past 15 years.

The Big Read sponsored a panel discussion at the Woodward Park Regional Library on March 8 at 7 P.M. Discussion included controversial legal cases in the community and the similarities the novel has with the world today. Among the panel were two lawyers, a judge, a reporter and the host.

According to Judge Debra Kzanjian, there have been threats on judges because victims or offenders don?t get the judgment they think they deserve.

?Some judges and attorneys have been threatened and even been killed,? Kzanjian said, ?but you have an obligation to take the case.?

A very serious discussion continued about judge and attorney obligations and also about jury selection. They spoke about the challenge in finding those who can judge very high profile cases without prejudice is important in choosing a jury.

Betsy Lumbye of The Fresno Bee remarked how sad it was that so many citizens had not read about or are aware of certain high profile cases. Many in the community are not taking time to be involved in what is happening around them.

?What is worse is that these are the people you want on the jury,? host Jim Tate said.

Some think To Kill a Mockingbird will greatly benefit ?The Big Read? because the lines between good and evil are pretty clearly drawn in the novel.

?One of the best things about To Kill a Mockingbird is it treats a very emotional and difficult issue from a child?s point of view,? Molly Sargent, English teacher, said. ?This makes the book?s issues easier to understand.?

To Kill a Mockingbird raises awareness of the negative effects of prejudice. It motivates those who believe in equality and justice to stand up for their beliefs despite societal pressures.

?The book shows me that it only takes one person to stand up for what they believe in,? Joelle Grimes, ?06, said. ?It also can make a great impact.?

To learn more about ?The Big Read,? the readings or discussions for To Kill a Mockingbird will continue to the end of March at any local library.

For those interested in listening to the co-star of the 1962 film, Mary Badham will be lecturing at Sunnyside High School Theater in South Fresno at 7 P.M. Admission is free. For more information on this story, go to The Fresno Bee online at www.fresnobee.com/lifestyle/movies/story/11942852p-12708352c.html.

For more information on other event times, go online to www.fresnolibrary.org/events/shakes.html or www.nea.gov/news/news05/BigRead Announce.html.

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    Carolyn OcheltreeAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I know I’m his mother, and all, but I’m just so proud of my son for setting a little-known school record! What will he think of next? I’ll be waiting!

    Reply