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New Haven's "Big Read" Focuses On Immigration

Lori Mack/WNPR
Arts & Ideas Co-Executive Director Tom Griggs, New Haven Academy students Daniel Ramirez and Mariana Robles

The Big Read is returning to New Haven. The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, in partnership with the New Haven Free Public Library, announced the citywide literary program at City Hall. 

New Haven was selected as one of 77 U.S. cities to sponsor the program, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 2017 Big Read will center on Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. The bilingual book is about the complexities of cultural identity, family, and home. It's a story Abie Benitez, New Haven Public Schools Director of Instruction, said is relevant to the community.

"One thing about this story is that, in a way, it shows that these young people are human, can love, can suffer, but can conquer barriers," said Benitez. "I think that’s the story of our kids in New Haven."

Nine New Haven high schools have distributed 195 copies of the book so far, along with Junta for Progressive Action -- one of several local organizations participating in the program.

City residents are encouraged to read the book and attend a series of free workshops, discussions, and films beginning April 29 and extending through this year’s festival in June.

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