NEA Big Read FAQ

  1. What is the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read?

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.


  1. How was Petoskey District Library selected to participate in the NEA Big Read?

Eligible organizations apply to Arts Midwest for NEA Big Read grants and the applications are reviewed by a panel of outside experts on the basis of artistic excellence and merit. Competitive applications demonstrate strong literary programming, experience in building effective local partnerships, reaching and engaging new and diverse audiences, working with educators, involving local and state public officials, and working with media. More information on the application and guidelines are available on Arts Midwest’s website.


  1. Which organizations in our community are participating in the NEA Big Read?

Petoskey District Library is the lead organization for the NEA Big Read in Petoskey.  Our NEA Big Read partners include Crooked Tree Arts Center, Good Hart Artist Residency, Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, Little Traverse Bay Bands Niigaandiwin Education Department, Little Traverse Literary Guild, and North Central Michigan College.


  1. Why did our community choose to read An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo?

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo was chosen as our NEA Big Read for a multitude of reasons: its genre, its popularity with young adults and adults alike, its potential for partnerships within our community, and that Joy Harjo is the first Native American Poet Laureate are just a few. We use books and stories as mirrors and windows, encouraging our community to open those windows to broaden their understanding and view of the world and its diverse voices. An American Sunrise showcases another voice through a genre that can evoke different emotions for everyone. Using a collection of poetry as a community read is sure to inspire a lot of conversation from many different perspectives. Petoskey and its surrounding areas are deeply rooted in the history, culture, and traditions of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB), a Tribal community who play a vital role in the community today. As Harjo’s work reminds readers to remember the past, so might our community, to reflect on all that the Odawa have endured, and inspire conversations about the present conditions in our country today.


  1. When will the NEA Big Read in Petoskey take place?

The NEA Big Read in Petoskey will take place March – May 2022.


  1. What types of events will take place during the NEA Big Read in Petoskey?

A full calendar of events for the NEA Big Read is here.


  1. How are books selected for the NEA Big Read library?

For the NEA Big Read, the National Endowment for the Arts looks for: books that can unite communities through lively and deep discussions and innovative programming; stories that provide glimpses into personal lives, told through the lens of universal themes; writing that sings on the page, with the potential to entice reluctant, lapsed, and avid readers alike; authors who speak to the issues of our times and the country we live in; and choices that offer a range of voices, genres, settings, perspectives, and experiences. We particularly welcome books that support the Endowment’s effort to reach individuals whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. You can suggest a new NEA Big Read title at


  1. Where can I find more information about the NEA Big Read?

For information on the NEA Big Read in Petoskey, please contact Sarah Biskup, Marketing & Programming Services, Petoskey District Library, 231.758.3144, or


Visit for more information on the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program. The website also features information about the NEA Big Read titles, including author biographies, discussion questions, and community stories.