GV announces new reading project title

Courtesy / jaycollier.net
Author Sir Ken Robinson

Courtesy photo

Courtesy / jaycollier.net Author Sir Ken Robinson

Joel Campbell

Since literacy has long been heralded as the cornerstone of education, Grand Valley State University now has a keen interest in seeing its students read – and out of the many initiatives they hope will help them reach that goal, the annual Community Reading Project is a big one.

The project, which began in 2007, has helped showcase titles such as “The Warmth of Other Suns” and this year’s title “The Element.” In a given year, different segments of the Laker community turn out to read the chosen book. Last year’s title, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” saw large numbers of participants from English and history backgrounds. This year’s selection, “The Element,” by Ken Robinson, is expected to appeal to education students the most.

“It begs the question, what is education,” said Susan Mendoza, director of undergraduate research and the community reading project. “It appeals to education, engineering, and a number of other disciplines.”

The book addresses what Mendoza calls ‘knotty issues.’ These are complex issues currently facing society. By examining these issues outside of textbook examples, students are able to integrate their education into the world at large.

“You often see a connection between the community reading title and academics,” said Lynn Sheehan, who helps coordinate the community reading project on behalf of the library.

“It’s a program that ties so well with our mission of liberal education,” Sheehan said. “I get excited.”

The library’s efforts are also helpful to the program. They provide book kits that include a number of the chosen book and questions in order to get the conversation started. The library also plays host to informal discussions, held mainly during the winter semester. During the winter semester, the library begins to put out displays of the book, and other selected titles, or materials, related to the theme. Of everything that can be garnered from the experience, Sheehan sees the informal education aspect as the most important.

“I want students to be curious about it,” Sheehan said.

In order to get students and faculty ready for this year’s title, the University Bookstore at GVSU has ordered 50 copies for the summer and is offering a 20 percent discount which will last throughout the school year.

“We work with faculty who adopt the books as reading material,” said Tony Glaab, UBS textbook manager, who coordinates for the project on behalf of the bookstore.

“For us, we want students to be involved in something the university feels is important,” he said. “We want to promote it to students.”

The book and discussion groups will culminate with author Ken Robinson’s visit to GVSU in March. To read more about the Community Reading Project, visit www.gvsu.edu/read.

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