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Our Big Read is designed to enrich Greater Lafayette through the shared experience of literature. Each year we select a great book, create a calendar of engaging events, including lectures, book group discussions, podcasts, and then provide free copies of the text to local organizations. Studies show that book ownership contributes to academic achievement, educational attainment, and economic development.

Over the last 7 years, we have distributed over 10,000 books throughout the Greater Lafayette area and hosted 70 public events. Almost half of these books have gone to local English Language Arts high school classes, helping to engage the next generation of readers through diverse authors, texts, and perspectives. The other half has gone to libraries (which help us disseminate the books to the community) as well as college instructors and their students.

It’s important for us to reach outside the borders of our campus and the temporal boundaries of the undergraduate degree. Engagement programs like the Big Read produce demonstrable, positive communal effects and are essential to Purdue’s mission as a land-grant university.

Reading is very important. It provides demonstrable benefits: cognitive (increased knowledge, enlarged vocabulary, improved writing, sharpened memory and concentration), health-related (reduced stress, enhanced brain elasticity and functioning, prevention against mental decline), and interpersonal (judgment and decision making, empathy and understanding). Literary studies in particular correlates to improved emotional intelligence as well as heightened reflection and tolerance for complexity or ambiguity. In a fast-paced digital world bombarding us with distractions, it’s more important than ever to slow down and make time for fiction and poetry.

Click here to submit inquiries or suggestions to the #PurdueEnglishBigRead