About the Big Read
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest designed to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. The program brings communities together to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature.
"The Grapes of Wrath" was selected because it relates to the extraordinary economic circumstances faced by numerous communities that make up the County Library system with its 33 branches and two bookmobiles. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel takes place during the Great Depression. It follows the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and traces their hardships as migrant farm workers. The book speaks to the real concerns of contemporary "Tom Joads" (Steinbeck's central character), struggling to keep families and homes together in the face of tough times.