The Big Read in Indy! The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
Indianapolis residents are invited to read and celebrate The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu through April 30 as part of the national campaign, "The Big Read," which is designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture.
As one of 77 non-profit organizations nationwide to receive a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indy Library will host programs relating to the book chosen among 36 Big Read book selections in U.S. or world literature. The title provides an opportunity to highlight a growing immigrant population Indianapolis' international community. Its theme highlights the differences between the expectations of American life and its reality and is one that resonates with new citizens' own experiences.
Mengestu is a graduate of Georgetown University and Columbia University and was named a "20 Under 40" writer by The New Yorker. His book received the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" award. The book focuses on the life of an Ethiopian immigrant who, after fleeing his country's revolution, faces an inner crisis of displacement and the challenges of living between worlds. Mengestu strongly identifies with his characters' sense of alienation and detachment because he lived in between different cultures and worlds as an Ethiopian immigrant in Illinois.
In addition to reading the book, local residents are invited to a Central Library exhibit showcasing historical maps and information about Ethiopia, Ethiopian traditional clothing, artworks and artifacts. The exhibit also highlights Indianapolis families of Ethiopian adoption as well as current efforts to foster adoption of children within Ethiopia. The exhibit will continue through April 30 and can be viewed during regular Central Library hours.
Other activities as part of "The Big Read" will include book discussions at various Indy Libraries and community locations led by expert discussion guides from the Indiana Writers Center. Book discussion kits will be available for pick-up from Library locations for book groups who want to read and discuss The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears.
The author himself will appear on Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. at Central Library to share his experiences as an Ethiopian immigrant and give insight into the process of writing his novel. Book signings will follow.
Other April events will include the "Ethiopian Lunch and Learn Series" at select Indy Library locations, during which attendees can enjoy traditional food of Ethiopia and learn about its history and culture. Also, there will be a screening of the documentary, "Sincerely, Ethiopia," a film that highlights the positive community-building taking place to combat issues faced by Ethiopians to help create a brighter future.
"The Big Read" is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and made possible with support from The Library Fund, a Fund of The Indianapolis Foundation, Arts Midwest, The International Center, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, Felege Hiywot Center, Indiana Writer Center, the Mayor's Office of International and Cultural Affairs and Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
Call 275-4099 for more information about these free Library events.
Women in Jazz Celebration
Individuals of all ages are invited to examine the contributions of American women to the jazz movement between the 1920s and 1970s during the "Women in Jazz Celebration," on Monday, April 13 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. at Central Library, in the Clowes Auditorium, 40 E. St. Clair Street.
The evening begins with a jazz performance by noted pianist and recording artist Monika Herzig and her band, followed by a screening of the documentary, "Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz" by Kay Ray, which describes the development of all-woman jazz groups through rare footage, photographs and provocative interviews with women musicians. At 7:30 p.m., Ray will discuss the film and answer audience questions.
Call 275-4099 for more information about this free Library event.
Adults in need of legal assistance are encouraged to take advantage of a free public service presented by The Indianapolis Public Library, the Indianapolis Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Foundation entitled "Ask-a-Lawyer" on Tuesday, April 14 from 2 - 6 p.m. at various Library locations.
Qualified, licensed attorneys will provide free, one-on-one legal consultations as a community service.
"Ask-a-Lawyer" will be presented at Central Library as well as the Brightwood, College Avenue, Eagle, East 38th Street, East Washington, Nora, Haughville, Pike, Southport and Lawrence branches.
If individuals are unable to visit any Library location during this prescribed time, they can call 317-269-2000 between 2 - 8 p.m. to speak with an attorney at no cost.
José-Luis Orozco at the Library!
Renowned bilingual children's musician, author and educator José-Luis Orozco will bring his unique celebration of music and learning to different audiences during free programs on Saturday, May 2 at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair Street.
Educators and childcare providers are invited to Orozco's "Early Childhood Educator Workshop" at 10 a.m. in Central Library's Clowes Auditorium. He will demonstrate how to use music, rhythm, games and songs to enhance early childhood language skills. This highly-interactive workshop brings the rich heritage of the Spanish-speaking world to those attending. Each educator will receive a free book and CD by Orozco.
Registration for this workship is required by calling 636-5727.
At 2 p.m., Orozco will present a "Concert for Children and Families" in Central Library's Clowes Auditorium. Those of all ages are invited to sing, dance and celebrate Latin American culture during this interactive concert. The first 100 children in attendance will receive a free book by Orozco.
Orozco encourages learning the Spanish language and promoting Latin American culture through his art. His rich catalog includes 15 CDs, a DVD and three award-winning songbooks, a collection that has achieved over two million in sales. Born in Mexico City, Orozco shares his music nationwide in live performances each year for over 100,000 educators, who then integrate his music into their classroom curriculum.
His 2009 book, Rin, Rin, Rin, Do, Re, Mi, richly illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Diaz, shows how everyday activities such as cooking, singing, reading and storytelling can foster essential early literacy skills. His recent 20-track compilation music album, "Favorite Spanish Songs for Kids," features some of the most beloved children's songs, including "Old MacDonald" and "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" in Spanish.
Call 275-4099 for more information about these free Library programs.
Conversations About Education '15: "Building a GradNation"
Parents, policymakers and educational practitioners are invited to a discussion on ways to improve high school graduation rates during the next program in The Indianapolis Public Library's "Conversations About Education" series on Tuesday, May 19 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Central Library, in the Clowes Auditorium, 40 E. St. Clair Street.
Leading the discussion will be John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C., and co-author of "Building a GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic," an annual report produced as part of a "Civic Marshall Plan" that details progress toward the goal of achieving a national average on-time high school graduate rate of 90 percent by 2020.
Released by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, the most recent GradNation report in 2014 shows that the nation's high school graduation rate rose above 80 percent for the first time in the nation's history. In addition, the number of students enrolled in dropout factories has dropped 47 percent over the last decade, and students of color have led the way in increasing graduation rates and leaving dropout factory high schools. These increases have come as standards to graduate have gotten tougher.
Among his many other enterprises, Bridgeland's work on the high school dropout crisis has received national attention, including a TIME cover story, "Dropout Nation," two Oprah Winfrey programs prompted by his report, "The Silent Epidemic," and his leadership of a national summit on the issue with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association and MTV.
During this program, Bridgeland will discuss promising strategies, ways to improve K-12 practices, and implications for the 2015 GradNation report to be issued in May.
"Conversations About Education" is co-sponsored by WFYI and the American Graduate Initiative.
Call 275-4099 for more information about this free Library program.