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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.

The Big Read Celebrates Literacy, Wichita Heritage

This is the 6th year Wichita is participating in The Big Read, a celebration of literacy where communities nationwide read the same book each October.

Wichita and 77 other cities will read True Grit by Charles Portis.

First published as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post, the story follows a young woman and her journey to seek retribution for her father's murder.

Director of Wichita Public Libraries Cynthia Berner Harris says many people know True Grit from its two movie iterations, but the book itself is great.

"It’s a classic western," she says. "There are many themes and great stories related that we are looking here in Wichita to take advantage of using that to talk about our own western heritage, and the true grit that the founders of Wichita had to have when they came and settled our community."

The library will discuss and give away copies of the book at a Big Read pre-party Saturday, from 2-4pm, at the Wichita Art Museum.

Carla Eckels is Director of Cultural Diversity for News and Engagement at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.
When she's not out making lattes in her mobile coffee bus Sunflower Espresso, Kate Hutchens is a fill-in host for KMUW. She has worked in broadcast journalism at KFDI, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and at KMUW as Morning Edition host, which she did until March 2017.