The Big Read

Cover of Bless Me, Ultima

The Big Read is coming to Redlands in early 2014.

“The Big Read is a chance for residents across the Inland Empire to come together to talk about important themes - language, identity, nature, innocence and knowledge,” Leela MadhavaRau, associate dean of Campus Diversity and Inclusion, said. “From different perspectives and in different arenas, The Big Read invites a large scale community conversation, with Rudolfo Anaya’s incredible novel, "Bless Me, Ultima," at the heart of that dialogue.”

The University of Redlands is partnering with the A.K. Smiley Public Library and Crafton Hills College to host The Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. Free copies of  "Bless Me, Ultima" will be available in English and Spanish, as well as on audiotape, and the community will come together to review the book through discussions, talks with authors and other events.

“Programs will be available for all age groups and will range from the fun and creative to the serious and intense,” MadhavaRau said.

At the University of Redlands, professors will be encouraged to teach "Bless Me, Ultima" in their classes.

“'Bless Me, Ultima' will not only be read in classes offered by the department of English, but by students in Race and Ethnic Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and more,” MadhavaRau said. “Using the book as a foundation, faculty will continue to explore issues of immigration, acclimation and acceptance.

The book will tie in well with themes that are already taught at the University.

“Our curricular as well as co-curricular activities are all based on the idea that we offer a transformative education, encouraging our students to make linkages between their learning and what is happening in their world, both locally and globally,” MadhavaRau said. “We are a University that has consistently been awarded the nation’s highest honors for our commitment to service learning. The Big Read, therefore, is not the only program that will push our campus community to think about our world; it is one of many programs that together inspire action.”

According to MadhavaRau, "Bless Me, Ultima" will be a “particularly poignant read” for first generation Latino and Latina students at the University of Redlands.

“It will lead to conversations in clubs such as MEChA and Latina Network, as well as with their parents who are kept updated on campus happenings through a Spanish language newsletter sent out by our first generation student programs coordinator,” she said.

Posted: July 1, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia

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