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‘Big Read’ kicks off Saturday

This weekend, Marengo County will kick off “The Big Read,” a grant program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Its focus is to bring readers of all ages together and to promote reading for pleasure.

“Throughout the state of Alabama, the public libraries are doing ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ since the book focuses on small towns, and 2010 is the Year of the Small Town,” said Demopolis Public Library director Morgan Grimes. “We’re trying to get people of all ages to read the book – whether they read the book as a small child or never read it before – and promote literacy among children and adults.”

Several fun events are planned for “The Big Read,” which will last for about a month.

“We’re having a kickoff event on Saturday, Feb. 6,” Grimes said. “We’re calling it ‘The Invasion of Tom Sawyer,’ where people come in and meet Mark Twain. We’re also going to give out free pickets for a picket-painting contest. Whoever wants one can take it home and decorate it, then bring it back to the library. The pickets will be judged, and we’ll give out prizes for the most creative picket. In March, we’re going to assemble them down at the city park for the whole town to see.

“We’re also going to give out scavenger hunt forms for people to take back home, and we’re going to give out prizes for the people who complete them. We’ll have snacks here, and people can visit with Mark Twain and ask him questions.”

Mark Twain will be portrayed by Dr. Robert Valentine, a journalism professor at Murray State University who has performed his one-man show of Mark Twain nationwide and who will bring that performance to the Demopolis High School auditorium on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.

The kickoff event will take place at the library on Feb. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m., and will feature Mark Twain reading the first page of the book to formally kick off the event at 1:30 p.m. The library will also give out free books to the first people who arrive as well as a calendar of events and readers’ guides.

“It’s just a fun way to come into the library and be introduced to Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer,” Grimes said. “All of the events that we’re doing are free to the public,” Grimes said. “We got a grant through the Daniels Foundation of Birmingham, so the library and the Friends of the Library are able to offer the events for free.”

For more information on “The Big Read,” call the library at 289-1595 or visit these Web sites:

www.demopolislibrary.info

www.alabamareads.org