Kick-Off Event Marks The Start of Young Auditorium’s 2018 NEA Big Read Project

The Hoard Historical Museum hosts FREE, family-friendly event – Saturday, March 24 at 10:00 am

With over 15 events spanning nearly two months, UW-WHITEWATER’S YOUNG AUDITORIUM is proud to officially launch the 2018 Big Read Project with a free kick-off event on Saturday, March 24th at The Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson.

Starting at 10:00 am, the event will serve as the starting point for a series of community-based experiences throughout the spring designed to show how sharing a good book can broaden our understanding of our world, our community, and ourselves. Managed by Arts Midwest and funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Big Read initiative offers grants to support innovative community reading programs designed around a single book. This year’s selection, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, focuses on the effects of a traumatic event for a Native American family in North Dakota, most specifically Joe, the 13-year old protagonist. 

The Round House opens out to become a detective story and a coming-of-age story, a story about how Joe is initiated into the sadnesses and disillusionments of grown-up life and the somber realities of his people’s history. ~ The New York Times

Those attending the kick-off event will be eligible for a free copy of The Round House (while supplies last), and can also view works by local artists at the Mary Hoard Art Show, tour the Mysteries of the Mounds and other permanent exhibits, and be eligible to enter a free raffle to win tickets to a show at Young Auditorium. Children can take part in a story time reading of a passage from Erdrich’s children’s novel The Birchbark House, and participate in a Storywalk featuring the book Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie.

This event is just the beginning! A full listing of all Big Read activities and experiences, including children’s activities related to kid-friendly reading selections by Native American authors, can be found at

Highlights include the following:

Fairhaven Lecture Series presents Amy Casselman Hontalas | April 9, 2018 at 3:00pm

Lecturer at San Francisco State University, Amy Casselman Hontalas presentsSeeking Justice for a Legacy of Violence Against Women in Indian Country, a lecture challenging the argument that violence against Native women in Indian country is simply collateral damage from a complex but necessary legal structure. The lecture will place Louise Erdrich’s novel The Round House in a contemporary political-legal framework and a historic context, and will draw meaningful connections between the experiences of the protagonist and the lived experiences of Native women in Indian country today.

Mark Denning at Irvin L. Young Memorial Library (Whitewater) | April 12, 2018, at 6:00 pm
Mark Denning at Hedberg Library (Janesville) | April 18, 2018, at 6:00 pm

Mark Denning will speak about Anishinaabe cultural perspectives in The Round House that may be invisible to the casual reader. Denning is enrolled in the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin and his ancestry includes Menominee, Mille Lacs Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee, French and English. His experience as an educator, lecturer and curriculum specialist in American Indian history and culture has taken him all over the world, working with people, communities, and organizations. In his words, “I cannot speak for over 500 Tribal Nations, but I can speak from my own experience as a tribal person, to develop understanding between people in the best way that I know how — and that is with humor, intelligence, and authenticity.”

Big Read Finale Event at Old World Wisconsin (Eagle) | May 6, 2018 | 10:00am-2:00pm

Join us at Old World Wisconsin (Eagle, WI) on their opening weekend to participate in the following Big Read activities. A Storywalk, featuring Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie will be available on the grounds all day. We will put the final touches on the new Little Free Library for Young Auditorium between 10:00 am and noon. Artwork inspired by The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich and created by students from Lakeview Elementary in Whitewater and Monroe Elementary in Janesville will be on display; and a reception with artist, Sally Koehler, will be held at 1:00 pm.

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