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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.

Erin Downey Howerton Saves 'His Dark Materials'

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My name is Erin Downey Howerton and I am the children's manager at the Central Branch of the Wichita Public Library. If I was given the chance to save a book I would probably say Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. I'm going to cheat and I'm going to lump them all together into one unit.

 
His Dark Materials is based on loosely based on John Milton's Paradise Lost.
 
In the first book, The Golden Compass, it's about a young girl named Lyra who's about 11 or 12, and in her world people have demons. Instead of like a Jiminy Cricket conscience or a soul, their demon is a physical animal that lives out in the world with them that is tangible and real. And until young people kind of go through their coming of age that demon can change. So if I'm angry my demon might change into a wildcat or if I'm scared my views might change into a tiny little mouse or something. So that's Lyra's world.

To me this series represents a lot of the questions that I had at Lyra's age and a lot of the mystery of entering into adulthood. I think they do a really good job of laying those things out in a very in a very readable way for young people. And for me personally I really was attracted to these books and I continue to read them and recommend them to people so that they know that there is a wide world of readers out there and that it's okay to ask questions and that it's okay to explore these big giant ideas.

I think you walk away from these books with more questions than answers and you get interested in all these big deep questions about what is the nature of the world around us. It creates a sense of marvel in me that few other books have.