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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.

Quest Novel Selected For The 2015 Wichita Big Read

The City of Wichita begins its eighth year in the Big Read program with the selection of a quest novel. KMUW’s Deborah Shaar has more.

The Wichita Big Read program is an annual event that encourages people to read the same book, and then take it a step further by participating in related literary and art events throughout the fall.

Wichita Public Library Director Cynthia Berner says this year’s novel is “Into the Beautiful North” by Mexican-American writer Luis Alberto Urrea.

“It is the story of a 19-year old woman who is struggling to protect her small town in Mexico from being taken over by banditos,” Berner says.

Berner says Wichita has one of the longest running Big Read programs in the nation, with just a handful of other cities hosting Big Reads for as long as Wichita. The city began participating in 2008 when the National Endowment of the Arts created the Big Read after research showed a decline in literary reading across the U.S. 

Berner says getting people to connect with reading is important.

"When people do take advantage of literary reading, they are also the individuals who are most likely in a community to be engaged in a community in a lot of other important quality of life issues," she says.

The 2015 Wichita Big Read runs from October 1-November 15. For more information, visit BigReadWichita.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.