NORMAN — Tough, self-reliant Mattie Ross, independent rookie Laboeuf and surly Rooster Cogburn are jumping off the pages of Charles Portis’ “True Grit” during the Pioneer Library System’s Big Read with entertainment and education in Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties.
The Big Read, which began in 2007, is a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read provides competitive grants to support innovative reading programs in selected communities and PLS has been a recipient of such grants four times. PLS has been onboard with The Big Read since its inception.
The NEA added three new titles to its reading list in 2012, including “True Grit.” With the Oklahoma setting and a different theme than former PLS Big Reads, it was a natural selection for the library system.
Each year PLS participates as a NEA-funded Big Read or on its own with donations from state and local organizations under the program title “PLS Big Read.” PLS public information officer Gary Kramer said this year’s PLS Big Read was produced with state and local funding.
Past Big Read projects, funded by NEA or PLS depending on the year, included books: “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Bless Me, Ultima,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Things They Carried,” “The Joy Luck Club,” and “Old School.”
Next year’s novel has already been selected by PLS, but the title will not be revealed until this year’s finale on April 12. Kramer said the selection for 2015 is a fantasy novel, a genre PLS has never featured before.
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The first of several Big Read events in Cleveland county starts 7 p.m. March 14 with the Bold Talk Scholar Panel Discussion at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave. The book discussion features University of Central Oklahoma English Professor Steve Garrison, PLS local history and genealogy resources librarian Kathryn Ramsay and Oklahoma Poet Laureate Nathan Brown. Oklahoma City attorney and musician Bob French will moderate the discussion.