Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Big Read Dallas?

The Big Read Dallas is a community service project designed to immerse Dallas in a shared reading experience, with a specific focus on ninth- and tenth-grade Dallas ISD students. The program, based on a grant awarded to the Friends of the Dallas Public Library by the National Endowment for the Arts, is under way now and will culminate with a citywide initiative throughout the entire month of April 2013.

Who's in Charge?

The grant recipient is The Friends of the Dallas Public Library (FoDPL), a membership-based 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1950. D Academy, a civic leadership training program for young entrepreneurs, media professionals, creatives, educators, members of the tech community, and others, is organizing the effort and will manage the project with the FoDPL. D Academy is underwritten by D Magazine Partners, and D Magazine Partners will work with community partners to transform The Big Read model into an ongoing program for the city.

We are pleased to announce that Former First Lady Laura Bush has agreed to be the honorary chairperson for The Big Read Dallas.

Who's Reading What?

The NEA provides a list of 31 novels, and we selected Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which depicts the frightening dystopia of a world without books. Fahrenheit 451 explores the themes of courage, censorship, free speech, and the value of literature. Our intention is to encourage and facilitate the entire city to read—and talk about—this book and these ideas in large and small ways.

When Will It Take Place?

During the entire month of April 2013, The Big Read Dallas will conduct dozens of special events centered on Fahrenheit 451, including an opening event, a closing event, weekly exhibits at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, poetry slams, educational events/speakers, DISD enrichment programs, and as many other community interactions as budget allows. At the same time, 18,500 books will be distributed to DISD ninth- and tenth-graders, as well as to DART riders, visitors in hospital waiting rooms, and all branches of the Dallas Public Library.

How Will You Measure the Success of The Big Read Dallas?

At the center of our efforts are ninth- and tenth-grade DISD students. By getting a book into the hands of each student in these two grades, and fostering a community-wide conversation, we aim to create an atmosphere where students become committed readers. DISD has identified three schools for a test program. They are Thomas Jefferson, Grady Spruce, and North Dallas high schools. The Big Read Dallas is creating enrichment programs for students, parents, teachers, and support organizations in two of these schools, while the third will serve as a control for this educational experiment. In partnership with DISD, we will conduct qualitative and quantitative assessments before and after to measure the effectiveness of the effort, with an eye toward improving results in subsequent years.

Dallas Independent School District loses, on average, 20 percent of its enrollment between the ninth and tenth grades. Research shows that this is the critical point at which students decide whether to continue and complete their education, or withdraw from school. While it may seem a modest ambition to convert a single student, we will consider the program successful if we do so, and we are taking the view that no matter how broad the reach, reading and citizenship are achieved one young man or woman at a time.

As a secondary agenda, we will use The Big Read Dallas to harness the time, talent, and stewardship of Dallas Gen X and Y individuals to fold them into the community of volunteerism and community involvement. We acknowledge that these generations need unique arenas in which to operate, and that their approach will focus on grassroots activity, social media, networking, multi-media, creative messaging, and one-on-one opportunities to contribute to the city. We will consider The Big Read Dallas a success if we are able to mobilize new segments of Gen X and Gen Y leadership, and introduce these individuals to local leaders, mentors, DISD, and city of Dallas influencers.

How Will It Be Accomplished?

The 2012-2013 class of D Academy will mobilize volunteer talent among individuals and local companies, each working on discrete committees to create and promote the April 2013 experience.

Funding is a crucial aim at this juncture. In addition to $150,000 in in-kind donations from D Magazine, we need $120,000 to forge and operate the 2013 program, measure it, and refine it for the future. The FoDPL and D Academy received one of 78 NEA Big Read grants, among a pool of 1,500 applicants for $15,000. D Magazine and the FoDPL have also made cash donations, and via the Communities of North Texas Foundation drive this fall, we raised $9,000.

With the expenses associated with a project of this scope, including purchasing books for DISD students, the ability to successfully execute The Big Read Dallas relies heavily on the generosity of the citizens and corporations of Dallas.