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Fordham Helps to Boost Literacy in a ‘Big’ Way


Fordham’s Westchester campus is participating in the “Big Read,” a program run by the National Endowment for the Arts that is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.

Taking place at Fordham Westchester and other partner sites in February and March, the event is sponsored in conjunction various organizations, including the Westchester Arts Council and Hudson Valley Writer’s Center.

The Big Read answers a big need.

Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading declining rapidly among all age groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among young people. The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.

This year’s book selection for Big Read Westchester is The Things They Carried (Broadway Books, 1998), a set of fictionalized stories based on author Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War experiences.

“Fordham Westchester was excited to partner with ArtsWestchester and The Big Read to increase our local community commitment and involvement and to help promote reading and literacy,” said Grant Grastorf, academic operational administrator at Fordham Westchester. “The book selection is a great tie-in with our FordhamVets Initiative. For all of the aforementioned reasons, we could not pass up the opportunity to be a partner with a great project like The Big Read.”

Those interested in participating should read the book during February and March and take advantage of accompanying public programs. At Fordham, these programs include:

•    Writing Our Lives: A Creative Writing Workshop for Veterans
Six Tuesdays: Feb. 23, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Participants will learn useful techniques for turning memories into stories that will come to life on paper (or a computer screen). A supportive group setting will help participants write the stories. Co-sponsored with the Hudson Valley Writers Center, this workshop will be led by David Surface, a published writer, journalist and teacher.

•    Book Discussion on The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Tuesday, March 2 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The discussion will be led by Maryann D’Angelo and Diane Batemarco, two of Fordham Westchester’s reference librarians. Co-sponsored by Campus Ministry.

•    Veterans Art Exhibit
Monday, Feb. 22 through Monday, March 8 in the main lobby.
The exhibit is open for viewing Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will feature art by veterans who attend the creative arts therapy program at Montrose Veterans Affairs Hospital. Co-sponsored by Fordham’s Office of Campus Ministry.

•    Artists Reception
Thursday, Feb. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the main lobby.
An event to honor and celebrate veteran artists and their work. Co-sponsored by Fordham’s Office of Campus Ministry.

Fordham events take place at 400 Westchester Ave., West Harrison, NY 10604.

All Big Read events are free, but registration is required. To register for the “Writing Our Lives” workshops, e-mail [email protected] or call (914) 332-5953.

To register for all other events, e-mail [email protected] or call (914) 367-3202. Room locations will be provided when partcipants arrive on campus.

For directions or more information, visit For more information on the Fordham University Veterans Initiative, visit

For information on other BIG READ Westchester events, visit


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