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Peter White Public Library Receives $20,000 NEA Big Read Grant June 11, 2021

Peter White Public Library is one of 61 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2021-2022 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $20,000 will support a community reading program focusing on Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise in Fall 2021. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

“We are so excited at Peter White Public Library to bring the Big Read to the Upper Peninsula,” said Marty Achatz, Adult Programming Coordinator and Big Read organizer for Peter White Public Library. “And we are especially proud to be able to focus on Joy Harjo’s beautiful collection of poems, An American Sunrise, which centers on the history, struggles, and contributions of indigenous peoples.”

“For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate Peter White Public Library for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“We’re inspired by the creativity of this year’s NEA Big Read grantees, who are finding new ways to bring people together after a challenging year,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to support these organizations and communities as they explore the richness and diversity of American history and culture together through reading.”

The books available for the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read explore different aspects of American history and culture. Grantees are developing programming that helps communities to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we’re going.

Peter White Public Library will be partnering with many organizations and libraries for its Big Read programming, including the Center for Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University (NMU), English Department at NMU, Marquette Regional History Center, Keweenaw Storytelling Center, Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, and arts organizations and libraries throughout the Upper Peninsula. The Big Read will kick off on September 20, 2021, at Peter White Public Library with an event featuring a reading by Anishinaabe poet and teacher Margaret Noodin. The culmination of the Big Read will be a virtual reading and presentation by Joy Harjo on November 15, 2021.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 90,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit

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