In October 2015, Albion was proud to be one of 75 cities nationwide to participate in the NEA's program, "The Big Read." The Big Read is a program that receives funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and aims to revitalize reading as an exciting and pleasurable activity for adults and children alike. The program aims to provide communities with the opportunity to come together and engage through a shared reading experience. Albion's Big Read program has roots that are tied to two primary goals: 

  1. Value and empower youth
  2. Provide opportunities for diverse groups to come together and interact in meaningful ways

A Wizard of Earthsea


Albion's 2015 Big Read programs and events were anchored in our first big read novel, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. One of the first fantasy novels to feature a protagonist of color, A Wizard of Earthsea narrates the coming-of-age of Ged, a young man who will become his world's most powerful wizard. Throughout the novel, he wrangles with challenges specific to his world (dragons, shadows, sorcerers) and with challenges common to ours (insecurity, powerlessness, alienation, fear, and regret). It's a book Margaret Atwood calls a meditation on power and "what it means to be alive." Albion's Big Read committee chose this novel because of the ways the characters and the world of Earthsea are both alike and unlike our own. 


Meet the Team

Big Read Leaders

Albion's Big Read Leaders are rising 8th, 9th, and 10th graders from our community. For these leaders, the Big Read began in June 2015. These students courageously led public book discussions with the Albion community throughout the entire month of October '15. We celebrate the spirit and commitment of the 2015 Big Read Student Leaders:

Akaiia Ridley
A'Veion Washington
Cassidy Porter
Cedriana March
Danielle Washington
Ian Lee
Isabella Hallock
Kei'Asianique Hill
Larenz Hill
Leia Williams
Lily Miller
Shi'Terriona Straham
and Terek Straham

College Volunteers

We are incredibly thankful for our Big Read volunteers. Our summer training program and October programs would not have been the same without the mentorship and commitment from College Volunteers from Albion College. We celebrate the leadership and commitment of the following college student volunteers:


Alana Brinker

Alexis Tillery

Rhiki Swinton

Sharla Rider

Victoria Della Pia

 These courageous, local 8th, 9th, and 10th graders facilitated community-wide discussions about Ursula Le Guin's,  A Wizard of Earthsea .

These courageous, local 8th, 9th, and 10th graders facilitated community-wide discussions about Ursula Le Guin's, A Wizard of Earthsea.

Big Read Committee

In addition to local youth and college students, Albion's Big Read has been made possible through the unending and generous efforts of a committee made up of college and community leaders.  Albion's Big Read Committee has chosen our Big Read novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, designed programming, creatively collaborated among countless local organizations, and continues met monthly to further the progress of Albion's Big Read. We would like to thank Albion's Big Read Committee for their unending and irreplaceable support of our program:

 Listen to the Town and Gown Podcast with Big Read Committee Member, Mae Ola Dunklin. "I think reading is the key to success for almost anyone," she says.   Click here  to listen to the entire podcast.

Listen to the Town and Gown Podcast with Big Read Committee Member, Mae Ola Dunklin. "I think reading is the key to success for almost anyone," she says.  Click here to listen to the entire podcast.

  • Kimberly Arndts, assistant director of donor relations and stewardship, Albion College, and vice president, Albion District Library Board of Trustees
  • Jamie Bernard, head of youth services, Albion District Library
  • Harry Bonner, executive director, Kids at Hope and Substance Abuse Prevention Services
  • Michael Culliver, at-risk coordinator, Albion Public Schools
  • Madeline Drury, assistant director of community programming, Albion College
  • Mandy Dubiel, director of admissions, Albion College
  • Mae Ola Dunklin, Albion NAACP and retired Albion educator
  • Diana Gomez, Albion College 2015 graduate
  • Dianne Guenin-Lelle, professor of French, Albion College, and chair, Albion Sister City Committee
  • Tess Haadsma, Albion College 2015 graduate
  • Joni Parks, teacher at Albion Community School
  • Jess Roberts, associate professor of English, Albion College, director of Albion's Big Read
  • Mary Slater, owner, Albion Heritage Bed & Breakfast, and secretary, Friends of the Bohm Theatre Board of Directors
  • Cindy Stanczak, interim director, Albion District Library
  • Jerri-Lynn Williams-Harper, superintendent, Albion Public Schools

2015 Sponsors

In 2015, we received $8,500 from the National Endowment for the Arts with over $12,000 in matching funds from local organizations and over $34,000 in in-kind donations. We would like to thank all of our generous sponsors. Their support made Albion's first Big Read possible! Click the sponsor name to learn more.

Albion's Big Read established quite a presence throughout local media outlets in 2015.  Check out the links below to read more about our Big Read Student leaders, applying for the NEA's grant, and more! Click the green text to open the articles.

Town and Gown Podcast with Mae Ola Dunklin
October 8, 2015

October is Magical with Albion's Big Read
October 2, 2015

Britons Play Role In The Big Read
October 2, 2015

Big Read Student Leaders train on campus
September 01, 2015

Albion General Guide to Arts and Trails

Coming October 2015... Albion's Big Read
August 16, 2015

Albion community awarded $8,500 Big Read Grant to fund fall, literary art programs
June 09, 2015

Albion receives NEA Grant for 'The Big Read'
June 02, 2015

Albion College professor looking to form literary event next fall through Big Read grant
April 08, 2015

The Bigger Read: A Powerful Partnership Makes Magic
March 30, 2015 
See the video "Albion College: Students on the Big Read"

Haadsma Aims to Get Community Involved In Reading
January 23, 2015

College takes action for the Big Read
April 16, 2014