Little Read Event: Angela Dominguez at Herrick District Library

November 14, 2020 10:00 AM

Angela Dominguez: Illustrating Galapagos Girl

Herrick District Library

For Families: Join us for a very special virtual presentation by Angela Dominguez, as she talks about her experience illustrating of this year’s Little Read book, Galápagos Girl!

November 14, 2020 1:00 PM 

Angela Dominguez: Illustrating Galapagos Girl

Herrick District Library

Join us for a very special virtual presentation with Angela Dominguez, illustrator of The Little Read book “Galápagos Girl”, and author and illustrator of “Maria Had a Little Llama (María Tenía Una Llamita)”, “Sing, Don’t Cry”, “Stella Diaz Has Something to Say”, and so many more! (Recommended for ages 5-8)

November 14, 2020 3:00 PM 

Angela Dominguez: Illustrating Galapagos Girl

Herrick District Library

Join us for a very special virtual presentation with Angela Dominguez, illustrator of The Little Read book “Galápagos Girl”, and author and illustrator of “Maria Had a Little Llama (María Tenía Una Llamita)”, “Sing, Don’t Cry”, “Stella Diaz Has Something to Say”, and so many more! (Recommended for ages 9-11)

Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City and grew up in the great state of Texas. She now resides on the east coast with her boyfriend, Kyle, and petite dog, Petunia. She is also the author and illustrator of several books for children and a two-time recipient of Pura Belpré Illustration Honor. Her debut middle grade novel, Stella Díaz Has Something To Say, was a New York Public Library and a Chicago Public Library pick for Best Books for Kids in 2018, Sid Fleischman Award winner, and an ALA Notable. When Angela is not in her studio or visiting schools, she teaches at the Academy of Art University, which honored her with their Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick and Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.

Mark Your Calander! Ross Richardson is coming virtually to Herrick District Library

November 13, 2020 5:00 PM 

Marine Biologist: Ben Kamphuis 

Herrick District Library

Journey to the waters of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northern Lake Michigan and join author and shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson in exploring the histories and mysteries of the Manitou Passage, one of the deadliest areas on the great lakes. An undiscovered fleet of shipwrecked ghost-ships lies off that rugged coast, just waiting to be found. Learn their stories and explore a newly discovered mystery schooner thought to be one of the most intact shipwrecks on the planet.

Too excited to wait? Check out some of Ross Richardson’s books!

Follow Herrick District Library on Social Media

And don’t forget our Big Read social media links are down below.

NEA Big Read Kick-Off Announcement

November 02, 2020, 7:00 PM

Kick-Off Event with Dr. Fred Johnson III: Swimming Through the Gray


In this kickoff address, Dr. Fred Johnson III will explore the historical context of the sinking of the Essex in 1820. In doing so, he will reflect on those who have told our nation’s history, those who are telling our history, and those whose histories have been left out.

Big Read Lakeshore Announces Author Skip Finley as Featured Speaker

Exciting announcement! Our November programming will include two events featuring Skip Finley, author of Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy

The events featuring Finley will take place on November 11 and 23, both at 7pm. The second event will be hosted in partnership with the Herrick District Library. Due to COVID-19, these events will be hosted virtually. More information can be found on

Finley will discuss race in the context of the whaling industry which is heavily featured in the Big Read Lakeshore’s 2020 book selection, In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Skip Finley built a career in radio and the communications industry. He served as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, Chairman of the Radio Advertising Bureau and several industry boards and committees. His career, since 1971, has included responsibility for 44 radio stations (five of which were owned by him). 

Although Finley has been retired since age 50, he has continuously returned to the communications industry. Finley is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Vineyard Gazette Media Group on Martha’s Vineyard. Beginning in 1955, Finley spent his summers on Martha’s Vineyard and in 1999 he moved there and decided to become a writer.

Notably, Finley has written articles for the Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Island Weddings Magazine, the Provincetown Banner and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum publications, The Intelligencer and the MV Museum Quarterly.

He has written two books: Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs, published by The History Press – Arcadia Publishing, and Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy, published by the Naval Institute Press in June 2020. Information of Finley’s career and publications can be found on his website,

Hope College’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore program began in 2014 with the goal to create and foster a culture where reading matters. By bringing the Lakeshore community together around a common book, Big Read Lakeshore uses the shared experience of reading, discussing, and exploring the themes of the book as a springboard to listen from and learn from each other.

Contributed by Kylie Galloway. Kylie is the Marketing Manager for Big Read Lakeshore. Kylie is also a junior at Hope College. She is majoring in Communications and minoring in both History and Spanish.

Let’s talk! Just reading our Big Read book isn’t enough…

During these summer months, our Big Read team has been hard at work getting ready for our upcoming virtual program this November. We are eager for our Lakeshore readers, on Hope’s campus and beyond, to read Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea along with our Little Read book, Galapagos Girl/Galapagueña, by Marsha Diane Arnold.

I’ve often said that while reading our chosen book is important and is a huge part of the Big Read experience each year, what I love and encourage more are the discussions that happen around the book and the ways that it can serve as a springboard for thinking and talking about a variety of topics, issues, and themes. Our Big Read is about reading a book but it’s also about what we do with the book and what we do after we read the book.

Particularly in light of our nation’s current racial protests and reckoning with race, we encourage our Big Read readers to reflect on both the historical events included in the book and the ways that they are told. We encourage our readers to read with and against the text. We encourage our readers to read with a racial equity lens and think about and read counterstories to what is included in In the Heart of the Sea.

To this end, here are some framing questions to guide our reading and our discussions about our Big Read and Little Read books: 

  • Whose history does this story tell? 
  • What is the historical Black experience in the United States? In In the Heart of the Sea?
  • Historically, the commercial maritime industry offered opportunities to Black Americans that weren’t available in most other industries. Why might this have been?
  • How do we tell our national stories from the past? How do we talk about them?
  • What choices do historians/writers have when writing about the past? How have historical stories been told/taught? How might they be taught in ways that acknowledge and value the experience of all?
  • What are counterstories to In the Heart of the Sea or other stories about our nation’s past?

In our November events and book discussions, we’re looking forward to digging more deeply into these questions and topics, bringing about more awareness to them, and exploring ways to respond in as individuals and as a community. Stay tuned for more information about these events!

Copies of the Big Read and Little Read books are available online or in-person at the Hope College bookstore for a discounted price. If you want to get started now, we encourage you to attend a free webinar on Tuesday, August 18 at 7pm led by Dr. Carlin Borsheim-Black, author of Letting Go of Literary Whiteness: Antiracist Literature for White Students. Hope faculty, staff, or students are welcome to attend along with any interested K-12 teachers or community members.

Contributed by Dr. Deborah Van Duinen. Deborah is the Big Read Lakeshore Executive Director and an Associate Professor of Education at Hope College.

Important history lessons for today

I will never forget my eighth-grade social studies teacher Mr. Danato at Franklin Middle School in Wheaton, Ilinois. Mr. Danato stood at 5 feet 8 inches and had salt and pepper hair that fell at the nape of his neck. At the start of each class period, we would scramble to copy down pre-written notes from a dimly lit smartboard. Then, Mr. Danato would make his way to the front of the room and begin telling stories, stories that captivated our attention. Not one set of eyes dared look at an iPhone when Mr. Danato told his stories; no one wanted to miss a single detail. 

If some people think history is made up of useless and old facts and dates, they clearly didn’t have a teacher like Mr. Danato. His stories brought history alive and showed all of my middle school classmates and me that stories from history have, in one way or the other, impacted our world today. Mr Danato helped me see how historical stories can be bridges to other times and places. When we hear or read them, we get invited to walk across these bridges, enter into the past and gain insights to who we are today. Mr Danato and the stories he told are the reason I have chosen to become a history teacher during my time at Hope College.

Best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick, like Mr. Danato, knows the power stories hold. In the Heart of the Sea, our NEA Big Read Lakeshore 2020 chosen book, he brings the tragedy of the whaleship Essex to life. His novel follows the whaleship crew on their three-year voyage to harvest whale oil; however, their journey takes a turn for the worse when their whaleship is attacked and sunk by an 85-foot angry sperm whale. The crew endures 90 days of starvation and false hope at the hands of the great and unforgiving sea. 

Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea is a relevant and timely story for our Lakeshore community for many reasons. For one, the novel and its survival story is a page-turner. It’s well written, historically accurate, and one you won’t be able to put down. For another reason, this November marks the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the Essex. What better time and reason to read this story? COVID19 had never been heard of in 1820 but the Essex crew’s perseverance can teach us lessons in hope and in the strength of the human spirit. Another reason this book is relevant is that readers along the Lakeshore can personally relate to a water-based economy. While we don’t live near an ocean and Lake Michigan doesn’t have whales, much of our own economic activity, leisure pursuits, and sustainability issues are focused on water. Philbrick invites us to walk across the bridge that his story represents and learn from what happened in the past.

While you might not have had a Mr Danato in your life like I did, our NEA Big Read Lakeshore 2020 book choice is your chance to experience the power of stories from the past. I encourage you to read the book and discuss it with family, friends, and neighbors. Visit our website ( to find resources and event information and join us for our program in November. Let’s walk the bridge together!

Abigail Knoner is a sophomore at Hope College where she is majoring in Social Studies for Secondary Education. She is this year’s Communications Manager for the NEA Big Read Lakeshore.

Hope Springs Eternal: A Time for Butterflies

On November 12, 2019, Holland, Michigan, was hit by a major blizzard that rendered 800 middle and high school students unable to meet Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and Before We Were Free. Prior to the fall of 2019, I had never heard of Julia Alvarez. Now, I am on a mission to read every single one of her books. Not only is Julia a talented and awarded author, but she is a butterfly. Julia graciously offered to do a virtual author visit out of the kindness of her heart. Thanks to the director of the Big Read and Little Read Lakeshore programs, Deborah Van Duinen, those 800 middle and high school students got their chance to meet Julia Alvarez. 

For all the individuals unable to attend or for those who want to reminisce over this magical experience, here is a summary of one of the highlights from Julia Alverez’s virtual author visit. 

Julia titled her presentation “Hope Springs Eternal: A Time for Butterflies.” What is a butterfly? Butterfly is a theme in the novel In the Time of the Butterflies, and it was the theme of her virtual visit. So what does Julia mean when she says that now is especially a time for butterflies? Butterflies are a symbol of liberation, courage, and standing up for the most vulnerable. Butterflies are a symbol of the soul. They represent the good in all of us. Butterflies connect us.

During this time, it is easy to become discouraged. It is understandable. That is why now more than ever, it is a time for butterflies. Now is a time to focus on the butterflies that are taking off!

Butterflies are easy to miss. You do not notice them unless you look. They are a silent beauty. They flutter past eyes staring at phone screens. They rest motionless in backyard gardens. If you take a moment to look around, you will see them. You will see their elegant beauty.

Butterflies are easy to miss, and so are butterfly moments. A butterfly moment is an encouraging sign, a kind police officer handing out pizzas to the impoverished, or healthy individuals wearing masks to protect those at risk.

Here at the Big Read we do not want these extraordinary butterfly moments to go unnoticed. We would love to see the butterfly moments you have been coming across. Send us pictures of your butterfly moments via Instagram or email; you will find this information at the end of this post.

Need examples of butterfly moments? Here are a few I have captured from around my town:

How to send us your butterfly moments:
Instagram: @bigreadlakeshore

Written by Abigail Knoner, Abigail is a sophomore at Hope College studying social studies for secondary education. Abigail has a passion for storytelling and would like to rely on stories when she has a classroom of her own one day. Whenever Abigail gets a chance, she spends time in nature or paints. Her favorite book is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.

A big Little Read thank you

The end of November brings another year of NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore festivities to an end.

On behalf of everyone on the Little Read team, thank you to everyone who made it such a successful year. From all of the participating libraries and classrooms, to everyone who attended the events, we are grateful for positive involvement. 

This year, the Little Read made great strides of improvement. We became a much more formalized program by creating logos, making t-shirts, working with local schools, implementing a dance program and more. Taking these steps has launched the Little Read to the next level and none of it would have been possible without the generous funding from Michigan Humanities.

The following pictures are from some of our favorite moments involving the Little Read. 

The Kick Off event

The Kick Off event was an amazing way to kickstart the program’s events. 

Story time at Rose Park Christian School.

This year we had over 19 preschools and elementary schools involved. The Little Read program would not be the same without the enthusiasm and interest of students and teachers. 

Strike Time performing at Holland Christian.

Our dance program Strike Time made over 25 performances to participating schools. What a fun way to get the kids excited about reading! 

Abby at WGVU/NPR.

Our amazing Social Media Manager, Abby, and our Executive Director, Deb (not pictured) had the chance to speak on air with Shelley Irwin on WGVU/NPR about both the books for Little Read and Big Read. 

One of the baby chickens from Critter Barn.

Each event was unique and offered something special for the kids. Herrick District Library partnered with the Critter Barn who brought baby chickens, Hens, and a Rooster. It was a great interactive event that allowed kids hands on involvement. 

Although this years events are finished, be sure to keep following us on social media and stayed tuned for updates regarding next year’s books! 

Little Read Lakeshore from a Little Reader’s Perspective

Here at the Big Read and Little Read Lakeshore, we are busy preparing for a month full of amazing programs geared towards adults and kids alike. We can’t wait! However, some of our Little Readers have already begun reading our Little Read 2019 book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy! Eliza Rowe, age 6, and Adrian Stroop, age 10, wanted to let you know why they think you should participate in reading the book, too!

“When we first met, we didn’t know anything about each other. Our moms were in the same book club for The Big Read. We started to read Paw Patrol stories together because we found out we both liked them. Even though Adrian is 4 years older than Eliza, we had something in common and became friends. Then we became the original Little Readers and our moms tried out kids books on us.

We think Holland is a better place to live because of the Little Read. We get to do cool things like read a lot of books and meet authors. We like to hear about their lives, inspiration and their feelings about things outside of books. We both have a collection of books that we got signed by Little Read authors. We get to bring bookmarks and copies of the book to our school to share with our friends. Our teachers get to meet each other and make friends, too. 

This year we are going to the Striketime Dance Theatre at the library to get our groove on. We’re going straight from there to see other people Drumming and Dancing at Hope College. We both like to dance, too. The next weekend, we’re going back to the library to meet the author.

This year, we think we’re going to make a lot of new friends. Any kids that participate in the Little Read already have two things in common. They live in the same town and they have all read the same book. That’s enough to start a friendship.” 

Coming Soon: A Broader Big Read

When I first heard that Julia Alvarez’s novel, In the Time of the Butterflies, was the book selection for this year’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore, I laughed aloud right where I was standing–in the center of my host university in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. The story takes place less than an hour’s drive away from where I was studying abroad for the semester.

It is a fictionalized account of the upbringing, formation, and eventual assassination of three of the four Mirabal sisters–women who became the figureheads of an underground uprising opposing the thirty-one year dictatorial reign of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in 1960. These sisters remain mythic on the island nation even today, whose faces appear on everything from murals to money.

I was thrilled to learn that my own college community of Holland was about to explore the too-often unsung culture of a nation with such close proximity to our own.

In addition to the main book, the program will also be incorporating a shorter novel also by Alvarez titled Before We Were Free and Carmen Deedy’s children’s book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

These texts have the potential to challenge and stretch the lakeshore community to adopt a more inclusive worldview at home and abroad by opening conversations around what makes a person good or evil, perceptions of oppression and rebellion, and the importance of remembering the past. 

For the first time, all three of this year’s books and a number of events will be offered in Spanish. For the community on the Lakeshore, this is a significant step toward inclusivity. Over 24% of the population of Holland is Hispanic or Latino, making this the largest minority group in the area by nearly 20%. Incorporating Spanish offers so much possibility to draw the regional community together in discussion and camaraderie in a way that transcends the biggest and most immediate language barrier. This expands the size of the conversation, but also multiplies the dimensions and depth as well, adding new perspectives. It provides a literary common ground. 

With regard to the content matter itself, the book is true to Dominican social and cultural conventions. The Dominican Republic is a country that fosters a male-dominant mentality–often referred to as machismo. This concept shapes the cultural context in which the story is written and shows itself in the roles that the male and female characters in the story take or reject. Especially because the novel capitalizes on female political heroines who fought in a political arena that they were told they should stay out of, at a time when taking such a vocal and public leadership position was so fiercely discouraged, this text is often taken to be a women’s empowerment piece. It encourages the reader to question gender roles in their own cultural contexts–especially when it comes to loyalty, patriotism, and common human resistance to oppression. 

Told within the frame of the memories of the one survivor, the youngest of the four sisters, the story also addresses grief, loss, and the past. She, as a character, is written with a very real case of survivor’s guilt; in light of the trauma of her country and her own family, she is forced to consider what to do moving forward and how best to honor the sacrifices others made to procure the current reality. Alvarez does a beautiful job of humanizing these women whose actions and very existence often seem larger than life. That said, the book also addresses more universal themes such as what makes human goodness and oppression. Above all, it challenges the reader to consider the role of rebellion and what forms are necessary in the light of different cultures as well as their own.

This year’s NEA Big Read and Little Read Lakeshore programs thrill me for all the potential it has to challenge Lakeshore community members to reach outside of their own cultural understandings and connect with others of different life experiences within their own neighborhood.

I highly encourage everyone in the area to take advantage of this opportunity by first reading the book and then having the courage to discuss it within all the nooks and crannies that make up our lives–libraries, coffee shops, cubicles, grocery stores, classrooms, and beyond. Stay posted for the listings of all the events and activities to come!

Rebecca Duran is a senior at Hope College where she is majoring in English and Spanish Education. She is this year’s Big Read student assistant.