Last month, The Great American Read (TGAR) launched on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Way beyond a one-time television program, this PBS national campaign is underway this summer in hopes that Americans will fall in love with reading again and share stories of how certain books have impacted their lives.
Via a national survey, 100 books have been selected as America’s overall favorite novels. Titles include “1984” by George Orwell, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker, “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James, “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls.
To see the complete list, visit pbs.org/greatamericanread. If your favorite book is already listed, go ahead and vote for it at pbs.org/greatamericanread or mpbonline.org/greatreadms. You can cast your vote online or on Twitter and Facebook using a hashtag for each book. In the fall, additional one-hour television episodes will air exploring the nominated books. The television series features entertaining and informative documentary segments, with compelling testimonials from celebrities, authors, notable Americans and book lovers across the country. By October, the novel with the most votes will be dubbed “America’s Best-Loved Book.”
But this campaign is about more than voting for a book. It aims to generate national discussion about what these books mean to the country and our collective culture, all while encouraging Americans to read the selected books from the list.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to choose one or more of the books from the list and start reading. Then encourage friends, family and colleagues to do the same. After that, discuss the books you read. Talk about what you learned from them or dissect the symbolism in them. Consider joining the The Great American Read Book Club on Facebook for more conversations.
There’s no right or wrong way to participate in TGAR. Let your imagination run wild. MPB partners for TGAR are the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival and the Mississippi Library Commission. To ensure Mississippians stay engaged in this initiative, the Library Commission is conducting a Reading Challenge and Battle of the Books program. The agency will also create a list of books written by Mississippi authors for additional reading.
MPB will engage with the public about TGAR at events throughout the summer, including Summer Learning Family Fun Day at the Convention Complex in Jackson June 30, the Mississippi Book Festival at the State Capitol Aug. 18 and during library tours across the state.
However you take part in TGAR, share it with MPB on our Facebook page. Happy reading!