The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Arts Midwest designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The hope of the program is that it unites communities through great literature, as well as inspires students to become lifelong readers.
In May 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that The City Library's proposal to host a Big Read project had been approved. The City Library is one of 77 nonprofit organizations that will receive grants totaling more than $1 million to host a Big Read project between September 2014 and June 2015.
The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 36 selections from U.S. and world literature. The City Library has selected Julie Otsuka's novel When the Emperor Was Divine.