bcc julia alvarezPHOTO: Novelist Julia Alvarez will be the keynote speaker of this year’s Big Read initiative, which will begin on Oct. 6 at Brookdale Community College. (Photo courtesy of Bill Eichner).

LINCROFT, NJ  – The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) at Brookdale Community College will launch The Big Read 2014 on Oct. 6 on the Lincroft campus.

Running through Nov. 25, the initiative will feature dramatic readings, guest speakers, panel discussions, film screenings and art exhibitions in Lincroft, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Long Branch, Manasquan and Wall.

“We are proud to once again partner with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in The Big Read, an initiative to revitalize the role of reading in American popular culture and inspire all citizens, young and old, to participate,” said Chhange Coordinator Deborah Degnan.

This year’s programming will center on the novel “In the Time of the Butterflies”by Julia Alvarez. Set in the Dominican Republic during the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the novel deals with universal themes such as human rights, equality and freedom.

Middle school students will participate by reading Alvarez’s book “Before We Were Free.”

All residents are encouraged to read the novel and attend a Big Read book discussion, film series or culinary event to join in the community-wide conversation.

This year’s slate of events includes a keynote address by Alvarez on the Brookdale campus, a dramatic reading from the novel at the Two River Theater and an art show at the Monmouth Museum featuring Dominican artist Carlos Frias.

Guest speakers include Upala Devi, coordinator of the United Nations task force on violence against women, and Anna Diaz-White, executive director of 180 Turning Lives Around, who will discuss the book’s themes from a local and international perspective.

Visit www.chhange.org or call 732-224-1889 for a full schedule of events. Some events require pre-registration.  

The Big Read is sponsored by the NEA, which awards annual grants to select organizations to encourage reading and participation among diverse audiences. Thousands of students and adults participated in Chhange’s first Big Read initiative in the spring of 2013, according to the center.