It is the final Monday of 2021, so here are a few reflections on the Big Read 2021. Our 2021 program focused on Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise and our Little Read book was Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard. Through our partnerships, we were able to host lectures, discussions, art seminars, documentaries, a Fry Bread meal at Hope College, a dance performance, and more. 

This year stands out from past years because the program selected its first book of poetry. Our program director, Deb Van Duinen, felt a bit nervous about choosing a book of poetry at first since poetry can be challenging. Yet, it also encouraged readers to dive into a book they ordinarily would not have. The events with Joy Harjo and Jack Ridl talked about poetry and the many ways to approach a challenging subject. 

Throughout November we were able to welcome numerous Native American speakers to our program, such as Joy Harjo, Kevin Noble Maillard, Angeline Boulley, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, Debbie Reese, and Cynthia Leith Smith. These authors discussed their books and themes related to their Native American heritage. I enjoyed Joy Harjo’s event because she talked about her heritage, her poetry, and her experiences as the current poet laureate. 

Over 12,000 Lakeshore readers of all ages engaged in our program. These readers read Harjo’s An American Sunrise or Maillard’s Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. 

We have already begun planning and exploring books for next year’s program and are thrilled to share the Big Read 2022 program with our Lakeshore readers in the upcoming year. 

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