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Contact: Paul C. DiNero

Kean University Announces the Kick-off of The Big Read

UNION, NJ - Kean University will launch its Big Read program with a kick-off celebration, featuring remarks by Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, on Thursday, February 4, at 3:30 p.m. in the University Center Atrium, located on the main campus at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, N.J. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Kean University received a grant from the NEA to host The Big Read and is one of 268 communities nationwide participating in the initiative through June 2010. The program gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature. To date, the NEA has funded more than 800 Big Read programs in the nation’s towns and cities.

“According to a study released by the NEA, fewer than half of American adults read literature and that number continues to decline,” said Dr. Mia Zamora, assistant professor in the Department of English at Kean who secured the grant. “Our goal is to reach reluctant readers, and have them experience the power and pleasure of recreational reading regardless of their age.”

As host of The Big Read, Kean University will carry out an extensive community-based reading program. Participants will be required to read The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien, and engage in various activities, including discussions, lectures, movie screenings and performing arts events.

Far from a combat story of pride and glory, The Things They Carried is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection. It challenges readers to ponder larger philosophical questions about truth and memory, and brings the reader closer to the emotional core of the soldier’s experiences.

The Big Read scheduled events include:

Kean University has partnered with the Elizabeth Public Library as well as local veterans organizations in the initiative, and has expanded its effort to work with teachers at local high schools to encourage participation in the program.

The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Transportation for The Big Read is provided by Ford.

For more information on this event or to participate in the program, please contact Dr. Mia Zamora at or visit

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. While Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers, it is also a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduatedegrees and more than 45 options leading to a master’s degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 14,000 students.