Response Magazine | Student Life

School of Education receives grant for Big Read

Illustration by Muti

The School of Education was awarded a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to host a community reading program based on the book When the Emperor Was Divine, a much-lauded historical fiction account of the Japanese internment during World War II. SOE will partner with local libraries, Highline College, and school districts to provide information for book discussions and public events, and free e-cards will be available for students and community members to access the book online. 

The six-month program kicked off on Oct. 16 during SPU’s annual Day of Common Learning, with two breakout sessions devoted to the book. Besides several campus events during Autumn and Winter Quarters, SOE faculty members will facilitate community readings at local libraries with K–12 students and teachers. The program concludes with a special public event on March 9 with the book’s award-winning author, Julie Otsuka. 

“One of the goals is for community members to celebrate the resilience of a population that endured racism and continues to thrive in our community.” —Kristine Gritter

Kristine Gritter, chair of the graduate program in literacy and director of NEA Big Read: King County 2020, says the book is a good fit for the Seattle area. “When the Empire Was Divine is written in spare, haunting prose, and features a time in history that affected many Northwest citizens,” said Grittter. “One of the goals is for community members to celebrate the resilience of a population that endured racism and continues to thrive in our community.”

Look for more information at spu.edu/bigread.

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