I read Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, in a graduate school class a few years ago. It’s an outstanding American novel, so I’m pleased to learn that thousands of high school students will be reading it next month thanks to an initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA found that literary reading in America is declining rapidly among all age groups, and that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. Their program, The Big Read, aims to address this crisis by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.
Louisville, Kentucky is one community picking up the ball, or book, as the case may be. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the city’s library has purchased and distributed over 5000 copies of Hurtson’s novel.
“This is the most ever we’ve bought of any one title,” said Craig Buthod, director of the Louisville Free Public Library. “This goes beyond just reading. It’s about coming together and talking about what you’ve read. It forces you to think differently and more deeply about what you’ve read.”