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Big Read
00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7a40000The National Endowment for the Arts' "Big Read" looks to encourage literacy by holding community events around the country celebrating a single book each year. This year's book selection is Into the Beautiful North" by Luis Alberto Urrea, which follows a nineteen-year-old woman who travels to the United States to bring back seven men--including her father--to help defend her Mexican village from danger.Of course, the stories of people who come to this country are wide and varied, and many of those stories live right here in Wichita. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear some of those stories. Follow them below.-The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of citizens. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

Sara Dixon Saves 'Leaves of Grass'

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My name is Sara Dixon and I am the general reference librarian at the Wichita Public Library. I have gone ahead and chosen Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. It was very important to me. I read it in college and I had a really great professor that got really excited about Walt Whitman. Specifically we read Song of Myself and because it's a large part of Leaves of Grass the whole book gets saved.

Because when you are 19, 20... and you're in college and you're trying to figure out who you are in life and you don't really know, you have self-image issues and Walt Whitman... Song of Myself... he really encourages...he talks about self-love a lot and how you should love yourself. And it's really important, and I think it really speaks to how important words can be.

There's a quote that I actually had etched on my iPad that's from Walt Whitman and it's "every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." And I think that just is such a moving sentiment because we're in this together so you should love yourself, but then you give yourself to everyone else.

If we're going to save words and we're going to save something from burning, then that's what I think the sentiment that we have to hold on to is to love yourself but also love everything around you and give back as much as you can.

It's so important to be able to figure out who you are in the world and what your place is and Song of Myself really spoke to me in that way.