Scotland County’s “Big Read” community reading project will kick off in earnest next week, beginning a series of events designed to facilitate communal learning.
Copies of his year’s selection, Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” were distributed beginning in Feburary.
“Books are selected from a list of books that the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest gives you, because their idea is to try to make sure they’re promoting what they consider diverse and good literature while at the same time promoting reading,” said Jan Schmidt, director of the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast.
All activities related to the Big Read are free, as the program is organized by SACS and Scotland Memorial Library using an $8,000 grant from the NEA and Arts Midwest. Scotland County was one of 78 communities nationwide to receive the grant this year.
On Tuesday, the official kick-off event will be held at Scotland Memorial Library from 4-6 p.m. Themed snacks, a book-related scavenger hunt, and a visit from Mark Twain will be among the program’s activities.
The library will host two other programs on April 9 and April 16, both designed to introduce the novel’s plot to very young children.
“It’s hard to break down Tom Sawyer to younger kids aged four through six,” said youth services librarian Denise Dunn. “One of our volunteers, Austin Bartel, has put together and summarized the first five chapters of Tom Sawyer into one page with an illustration.”
The next week’s activity will center around the book “Bambino and Mr. Twain,” about Twain’s relationship with his cat. Both programs will include an arts and crafts session.
Beginning on April 13, a reading of an abridged version of Tom Sawyer by local storytelling Tyris Jones will be broadcast on WLNC from 10-11 a.m. The readings will be broadcast on Saturdays through May 4.
“Kids can read along if they want to, which is a great activity actually, because if you read along while you’re listening, it helps you with reading skills, listening skills, and expression,” Schmidt said.
Other activities include a Sawyer-themed children’s scavenger hunt at Sunday in the Park on April 21, courtesy of Scotland County Parks and Recreation, as well as a community mural organized by ARTScotland.
For book club members and other adult book lovers, UNC Pembroke professor of 19th century American literature Therese Rizzo will lead a discussion of the book from 5-7 p.m. on April 25 at the storytelling center. Representatives of interested book clubs should call SACS prior to the event.
On May 4, the celebration of reading will come to a close with a showing of a film version of Tom Sawyer from 8:30 -11 p.m. in James Morgan Park.
The varied approaches to the book’s plot and characters provided by the Big Read’s activities are designed to bring participants together and help them understand each other as they come to an understanding of Twain.
“To me it’s beyond reading, not that the literary arts aren’t important, but when I think about this community I think about all the different ways to bring people together,” said Schmidt. “If we can develop mutual respect around the arts, then maybe we can develop mutual respect when it comes to solving some of our other issues.”
Free copies of the book, both in its original edition and a children’s version, remain available at Scotland Memorial Library, the Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast, Scotland County Parks and Recreation, Laurinburg Housing Authority office, the Scotland County Literacy Council, and the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.
The deadline for the poster and poetry competitions held in conjunciton with the Big Read has been extended until April 30.
Each contest has two divisions: one for students in grades 8-12 and another for adults and college students. Each entrant may submit one poster illustrating a theme related to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or to Mark Twain. Poems entered must be no more than 20 lines and must be related to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” or Mark Twain. Entry forms and full contest rules are available online at storyarts.info.
Entries may be sent by mail along with the entry form to “SACS, P.O. Box 2154, Laurinburg, NC 28353.” Poems may also be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org, while posters may be submitted at Scotland County Memorial Library.
Winning posters and poems will be published in The Exchange. Winning poems will also be read on WLNC Radio.