Mockingbird’ featured in 2008 Pomona Big Read

By Sarah Elkeaikati

Cal Poly was recently given a $17,000 grant and the opportunity
to host The Big Read, which is an annual series intended to
encourage reading through various programs.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum,
Library Services and Arts Midwest presented the grant.

The 10-month program, which launched in September during the Los
Angeles County Fair, includes more than 35 events all geared
towards the importance of literary knowledge and understanding.

This year’s Big Read will focus on “To Kill a Mockingbird” by
Harper Lee and will feature programs such as read-a-thons, literary
discussions, movie screenings, lectures and performing arts. The
kick off was held Oct. 3 at the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown center.
Speakers included Western University of Health Sciences Founding
President Dr. Phillip Pumerantz and Cal Poly Provost Dr. Marten
denBoer, who read passages from the novel and spoke about its
impact on society.

“All literature helps form you and tells us who we are,” said
Dr. Pumerantz.

Pomona City Council Member George Hunter said he read “To Kill a
Mockingbird” as an adolescent.

“There are certain books you read that become part of what you
are,” said Hunter. “You always carry them with you, and this book
is one of them for me.” Several students in the Pomona Unified
School District, as well as students Chaffey High School are
reading the novel, enabling them to become involved in The Big Read

The headlining event of The Big Read will occur Oct. 23.
Oscar-winning actress Mary Badham, who played Scout in the 1962
film-version of the book, will discuss her experiences on the

Other guests include 3-D artist and film producer Ray Zone who
wrote more than 130 3-D comic books, including three books on 3-D

Different activities are scheduled throughout the coming months,
including several screenings of the 1962 movie version of “To Kill
a Mockingbird.”

Director of community outreach Jonnie J. Owens is organizing the
events and said “Mockingbird” is a great selection for this year’s

“I’m glad we chose [“To Kill a Mockingbird],” said Owens. “The
messages in the book are relevant and important to the youth and
community in Pomona today.”

Owens also stressed the importance of finding a novel that was
available in Spanish translation.

“We have quite a few parents in Pomona who are monolingual in
Spanish,” Owens said. “This was given a good amount of

This year, the NEA awarded 208 Big Read grants to several
institutions including high education, arts and culture

Each recipient of the grant must chose from 23 selections of
American and world literature.

Cal Poly Pomona hosted The Big Read last year with “Bless Me,
Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya.

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