ASAP Partners with Libraries on NEA Big Read

Longtime ASAP program partner Des Moines Public Library invited ASAP to collaborate during Banned Books Month by being part of their NEA Big Read program, focusing on Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

ASAP created make-and-take art project kits inspired by the Bradbury novel. Kits include supplies and instructions to create paper lanterns using actual book pages, symbolically “illuminating” the reading. The kit insert explains that in the novel, “fire is presented as a destructive force, used to threaten, control, and destroy books, reading, learning, language, and culture. By contrast, light is often presented as an awakening, connective force. Lanterns, whether powered by a flame or a lightbulb, are a source of light. Artful lanterns made from the pages of actual books may symbolize no just illumination but also the creative, brave, and persevering ways in which people have preserved their languages and cultures throughout history, often in the face of violence and oppression. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, the main character discovers that people all over the world are dedicating themselves to memorizing a book, word for word. In doing so, each person becomes a book, and this network of people becomes a collective record of ideas, history, language, and knowledge.” Participants were encouraged to decorate their lanterns with words, memories, or traditions that they want to preserve. Kits were distributed at all six metro branches of the Library.

The NEA Big Read—a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest—broadens our understanding of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.  Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, engaging more than 5.7 million Americans. ASAP is delighted to be one of 40,000 community organizations that have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible.

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