Southern Maryland Makes Plans for Second ‘Big Read’

CSM Partners with Local Libraries, Schools, Community Organizations To Read ‘Fahrenheit 451’ as Part of NEA Program

Southern Maryland will be launching into a second “Big Read” as the College of Southern Maryland partners with 16 organizations as part of the National Endowment for the Arts literature program. CSM and the local partners are among 269 grant recipients announced June 23 to receive a grant to host The Big Read celebration. CSM’s grant award is $17,275 for programs to be offered next February focused on Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451.”

 “Our first experience with The Big Read last year was a great success and enthusiastically received by both our community’s residents and our partners,” said CSM President Brad Gottfried. “Our partners were so excited about the participation that they were unanimous in wanting to make this an annual event. People can be so busy concentrating on their jobs and family activities that little time remains to read and reflect. The Big Read is a great way of involving community organizations and schools and in engaging citizens of all ages to participate in simultaneous conversations. We are looking forward to having even more people involved in reading and reflecting on this year’s choice of ‘Fahrenheit 451.’”

The college’s partners in planning events centered around the book “Fahrenheit 451” are Calvert County Literacy Council, Calvert County Office on Aging, Calvert County Public Library, Calvert County Public Schools, Charles County Arts Council, Charles County Literacy Council, Charles County Public Library, Charles County Public Schools, The Calverton School, Asbury-Solomons Island,  Maryland Public Television, St. Mary’s County Department of Aging, St. Mary’s County Public Library, St. Mary’s County Literacy Council, St. Mary’s County Public Schools , Southern Maryland Newspapers and St. Mary’s Ryken School.

The community-based reading programs will feature a variety of activities such as book discussions, lectures, dramatic presentations and movie screenings. As part of the grant, CSM will also receive educational materials, including reader’s, teacher’s and audio guides to distribute. CSM’s partners are currently planning kick-off programs and the schedule of activities.

The NEA describes “Fahrenheit 451” in its preface as “a gripping story at once disturbing and poetic, Bradbury takes the materials of pulp fiction and transforms them into a visionary parable of a society gone awry, in which firemen burn books and the state suppresses learning. Meanwhile, the citizenry sits by in a drug-induced and media-saturated indifference. More relevant than ever a half-century later, “Fahrenheit 451” has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller. “

The latest Big Read grantees, totaling $3,742,765, represent 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the 2006 pilot program with 10 participating organizations, the NEA has given more than 800 grants to support local Big Read projects. The NEA launched the Big Read nationally in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Transportation for The Big Read is provided by Ford.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For information, visit

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For information, visit

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For information, visit