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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.

Big Read: Wichita Getting Ready For Kickoff Event

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Wichita Public Library
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The kickoff for Big Read: Wichita, the community-wide reading event, is scheduled for Sept. 28 at the Advanced Learning Library.

The opening event, which runs from 2 to 4 p.m., will include a nature photography exhibit by Roy Wenzl; a mime performance by Wichita State University’s Alithea Mime Troupe; chamber music, and a readers' theater presentation.

The book chosen for this year's Big Read is "Lab Girl," a memoir by Hope Jahren. 

As a geobiologist, Jahren lives with bipolar disorder and finds beauty in what she is passionate about: nature and science. Free copies of the book will be available at the kickoff event while supplies last.

"With the Big Read here in Wichita, it’s ... just a great way to bring community members together who are participating in a common activity,” said Sean Jones, communications specialist with the Wichita Public Library.

The National Education Association selected Wichita as a recipient of a $15,000 grant for the Big Read: Wichita. The NEA was created in 1857, with the mission to prepare every student for success.

Big Read: Wichita runs Oct. 1 through Nov. 15. It will feature more than 50 events in Wichita and the surrounding area.

Suzette Sponsel is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.