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The Big Read kicks off Saturday at the library

On Saturday, Demopolis will kick off its celebration of The Big Read, the statewide literacy awareness program that works to bring communities together through reading. The kickoff event will be today, Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Demopolis Public Library.

This year’s group read is “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and the Demopolis Public Library has a number of treats in store for people who want to take part in The Big Read.

“The focus for The Big Read is bringing everyone together, taking part in one thing together,” said Demopolis Public Library director Morgan Grimes. “You can discuss the book together, sit around the dinner table when your child comes home from school and all share something in common.

“’The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ is so special because Mark Twain wrote the book with the focus on childhood, but it is also for adults. It reminds adults of how special childhood is. There are just so many great stories in the book. You can relate it to modern times, too.”

Grimes said another good aspect of the program is that the entire state is reading the same book, and that this is the first time the National Endowment for the Arts has given a grant to an entire state.

“Thomasville kicked off their Big Read on Thursday,” she said. “Other libraries are having guest speakers come, but I haven’t heard of anyone else having a Mark Twain impersonator!”

Mark Twain will be on hand at the library for the kickoff event and will read the ceremonial first page at 1:30 p.m. Twain will be performed by Robert Valentine, a senior lecturer at Murray State University. Valentine has been performing as Mark Twain since 1973, and will put on a one-man show at the Demopolis High School auditorium on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The schedule of events for The Big Read will be given out at the kickoff event at the library Saturday afternoon. Copies of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” will be given out, and hardback books will also be given. T-shirts and pickets for a picket-painting contest will be available, and a scavenger hunt will be announced. All “Big Read” events and projects are free to the public.