Civic leaders, university mascots and nearly 100 spectators were on hand for The Big Read kickoff, which was celebrated at the Tarrant Area Food Bank on Feb. 29. This marks the beginning of events that will continue into late May – all related to The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Last summer, Texas Wesleyan University was awarded an $11,700 grant to participate in The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. Texas Wesleyan is one of four grant recipients in Texas.
Texas Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach spoke at the event and expressed his enthusiasm for the project and its impact throughout the community.
“The Big Read programming provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities,” Slabach said. “We encourage you participate in the variety of engaging events to be hosted by our many partners over the next few months supporting this city-wide reading project.”
Slabach concluded his comments by donating a bag of canned goods to the collection and then introducing Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
The event’s emcee flew in from Los Angeles just for this occasion. Windell Middlebrooks, a Trimble Tech High School alumnus and television actor, said he made the trip because he strongly believes in this project and hopes The Big Read will help with both literacy efforts as well as a food drive.
“Our community reading discussions will help fill the shelves of the Tarrant Area Food Bank,” he said. For admission to any of The Big Read events, participants are asked to bring canned food for TAFB.
Texas Wesleyan’s community partners are the Fort Worth Public Library, City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, Fort Worth Independent School District, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Friends of the Fort Worth Library, Texas Christian University, Tarrant County College, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, The Reading Connection, Stage West Allied Theater Group, Dallas Model A Club, and Barnes & Noble. Other partners include area high schools and media outlets.