The Hudson Valley Comes Together with Big Read | Books & Authors | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge The Hudson Valley Comes Together with Big Read
NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest

Sandra Cisneros’s novel The House on Mango Street is just as relevant now as it was when first published in 1984. It follows Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old Latina girl coming of age in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. The book explores immigration, displacement, and what home means.

“Thinking about the influx of residents that this area has seen during the pandemic, and people being displaced due to gentrification, it’s a perfect fit for this community,” says Karen Unger, Associate Vice President of the Office of Institutional Support at Bard College.

Unger thinks everyone in the Hudson Valley would benefit from reading The House on Mango Street, and so does the National Endowment for the Arts. Bard has received a $19,985 grant from the NEA to support Big Read Hudson Valley: Spanning the Hudson River with Words.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded Big Read events across the country, in which communities choose a book from among a preselected list and host events inspired by it, like concerts, readings, and educational talks. This year’s featured books include Beloved by Toni Morrison, An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, and Bard’s pick: The House on Mango Street. Bard is one of four awardees in New York State.

Things kick off on April 6, when Cisneros will make an appearance in Kingston to talk with community members, possibly at the Kingston Library (stay tuned for when the location is announced). Cisnero will also give a free talk at Bard that evening. At that event and at book clubs throughout the month, free copies of The House on Mango Street will be available to the public.

Bard has teamed up with local libraries in Red Hook, Kingston, and Rhinebeck; bookstores Rough Draft and Oblong Books; Radio Kingston, Ramapo for Children, and the Reher Center for free events inspired by Cisneros’s book. Activities include English and Spanish writing workshops, an art show featuring pieces inspired by the book, piñata making, and storytimes.

For younger readers, there will be crafting sessions inspired by Yuyi Morales’ book Dreamers. Bard faculty member and author of former Big Read pick The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu, will be rounding things out with the closing event on the thirtieth. Check out the full list of happenings here. Be sure to check back in often, as more events are being added.

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