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NEA Big Read 2022

This April, the Galesburg Public Library will host its 14th National Endowment for the Arts Big Read.

The Big Read annually provides support to selected libraries and nonprofits around the country to host community-wide reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read title. Organizations apply for funding through a grants program managed by Arts Midwest, and can receive a grant which ranges between $5,000 and $20,000. This year, the Galesburg Public Library was 1 of 61 organizations to be awarded a grant. Every year, the Galesburg Public Library gives out free copies of the Big Read title, as well as free copies of the teen and children’s tie-in titles, and hosts book discussions, cultural and musical events, and craft programs, all designed around the themes in the Big Read title.

The 2022 Big Read title is An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, and the first Native American to hold that title. An American Sunrise is a book of poetry informed by the history of her tribe – the Muscogee (Creek) people – and her connection to the land. We also have a tie-in book, Cheyenne Madonna by Eddie Chuculate. Chuculate is also a member of the Muscogee Nation, and Cheyenne Madonna is a series of interconnected short stories about a young Native American man struggling with alcohol and art, the two constants in his life. There are also a teen tie-in novel, Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac, and a children’s tie-in book, Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith. A limited number of free copies of both books are available, and we will have discussion of each of them in April.

The 2022 NEA Big Read will kick off with a free musical performance at the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday, April 3. Black Hawk Performance Company from Chicago will perform music, drumming, storytelling, and flute playing. The Black Hawk Performance Company seeks to honor the ground they dance on, Mother Earth, and the many tribes who have made Illinois their home. They share their native cultures with the general public through many tribal songs and dances that enrich their lives as tribal people. The event will begin at 2:00 PM, with doors opening at 1:30. It is free and open to all ages, and is made possible through a generous donation from a patron. Free copies of the Big Read book will be given away, as well as copies of the tie-in books while supplies last.

The Big Read will run the entire month of April, and will feature many exciting events. On Saturday, April 16 at 2:00 PM, join us for a presentation by Kim Sigafus, an award-winning Ojibwa author. She sing and drum, and discuss the tribes that once inhabited Illinois and take the audience through the American Indian way of life as it once was. The event is free and open to all ages. For adults, there will be several craft events, three of which will be led by the Galesburg Community Arts Center, including a watercolor sunrise painting class and a printmaking workshop. Carl Sandburg College Library will also be hosting an all-ages craft event at their library, attendees can drop in and make the craft onsite, or pick up a take and make kit and do the craft at home! There are also several opportunities to discuss An American Sunrise and Cheyenne Madonna with others who have read it, both in person and virtually. For teens, there will be a pop-up poetry card craft night, and children can check out the Standish Park Storywalk to read Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and pick up a free copy of Jingle Dancer in the Children’s Room!

If you’ve never participated in the Galesburg NEA Big Read before, we hope you’ll pick up a copy of An American Sunrise, and attend a book discussion or craft event! If you are a regular Big Read attendee, we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for this year. If you have any questions about the Big Read, contact Eileen Castro at or 309-343-6118 ext. 6. The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

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