The Big Read Kicks Off in Calvert County Feb. 1

Prince Frederick Fire Chief Ficke to Provide Fiery Reading

Calvert County will launch into The Big Read in Southern Maryland beginning at 6 p.m., Feb. 1 at the Calvert Library Prince Frederick. The kick-off is part of a regional effort in which the College of Southern Maryland is partnering with 18 organizations to offer programs focused on Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451” as part of the National Endowment for the Arts literature program.

In Calvert County, the community-based reading programs feature activities such as book discussions and movie screenings, kicking off with a program featuring the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department with uniformed firefighters, fire trucks, coloring books and Fire Chief Brian Ficke kindling the event with a fiery reading from the book. There will be refreshments followed by the first book discussion which will compare “Fahrenheit 451” to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” 

“Author Ray Bradbury is a huge fan of reading and libraries, so I am glad we are featuring his book that so well demonstrates his passion. I think it is a great story for our community to discuss,” said Director of Calvert Library Patricia Hofmann. She encourages families to bring the kids to burn off their energy on the fire engines and pick up a free copy of the book.

Each branch of the Calvert Library will also be featuring a discussion of the book and there will be an online book discussion at www.calvertlibrary.ning.com. Discussions will be held by the Twin Beaches Branch at Town Center Apartments, Chesapeake Beach, at 7 p.m. Feb. 8; Fairview Branch, at 2 p.m. Feb. 17; and Southern Branch at 2 p.m. Feb. 18. The 1966 movie version of the book will be shown at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Calvert Library, Prince Frederick Branch, with a brief discussion after each showing.

A number of other organizations in Calvert including the Calvert County Literacy Council, Asbury-Solomons Island, Calvert County Office on Aging and the Calvert County Public Schools are also planning activities, and a lecture by Ray Bradbury’s biographer, Sam Weller, will be hosted at CSM’s La Plata Campus beginning at 7 p.m., Feb. 17.  All events scheduled within Southern Maryland can be viewed online at www.csmd.edu/thebigread.

The NEA describes “Fahrenheit 451” in its preface as “a gripping story at once disturbing and poetic, Bradbury takes the materials of pulp fiction and transforms them into a visionary parable of a society gone awry, in which firemen burn books and the state suppresses learning. Meanwhile, the citizenry sits by in a drug-induced and media-saturated indifference.

More relevant than ever a half-century later, “Fahrenheit 451” has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller. The Big Read 2010 grantees, totaling $3,742,765, represent 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the 2006 pilot program with 10 participating organizations, the NEA has given more than 800 grants to support The Big Read’s local projects. The NEA launched The Big Read nationally in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts-both new and established-bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.  The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For information, visit www.imls.gov.

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.

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