Dearborn launches its third annual The Big Read initiative

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The city launched its third annual Big Read initiative Aug. 22, which will highlight “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

During the launch, Dearborn Public Library Director Maryanne Bartles explained that the meaning of the book matches this year’s “What’s in a name?” theme.

“This books tells readers about the experiences of an Indian immigrant family and their American-born children living in America including their Russian named son Gogol Ganguli,” she said. “The story relates to the city and its residents who are immigrants in America with children.”

The Big Read program that will take place in March and April 2018 will include a video project, family recipe sharing, concentration on names, family history and the immigrant experience.

Community events and activities planned to learn more about the book include films, food tastings, dance demonstrations and book discussions.

“The Big Read encourages communities to select one book for all residents to read, and inspire productive conversations and interactions,” a city press release read.

Throughout the coming months residents will be asked to tell their immigrant story at Dearborn High School to be featured a film which will premiere at the March 18 kickoff.

The city is also accepting family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation for submission as part of the program.

Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. praised the librarians’ work and their ability to earn one of the 75 nationwide grants given to the city.

“The first year we went after the initiative we didn’t get the nod but the library kept after it and we are celebrating the third year,” O’Reilly said. “I’ll be discovering the book with you because I haven’t read it either. It is something everyone in Dearborn can relate to because their experiences are similar.”

Jill Chochol, Dearborn Public Schools executive director of Student Achievement, told the audience the theme and were book were “a great choice.”

“The city, its residents and school district can work together to raise a community of readers throughout initiatives like this,” she said.

For more information on The Big Read initiative and planned activities go to or call 313-943-2330.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at