The Big Read 2010: Ridgefield Reads The Grapes of Wrath

Join The Ridgefield Playhouse for Movies and the Performing Arts and the Ridgefield Library this fall as we organize a community-wide reading initiative under the auspices of The Big Read. See below for a list of lectures, movie screenings, book discussions, live music and more, to take place in September and October 2010.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

Contact: Mary Rindfleisch, Assistant Director, 203-438-2282 x1009 mfrind@ridgefieldlibrary.org


Program Sponsors & Partners | Programs & Events | Library Materials | Other Resources

The Big Read in the News

A Big Read for a Little Town
Ridgefield Patch 7/08/10

Reading Is BIG this Fall in Ridgefield
Talk of our Town 7/28/10

'Grapes of Wrath' Will Be Ridgefield's Big Read
Danbury News-Times 8/27/10

How Can I Participate?

PLAN AHEAD! Sign up for our special Big Read email newsletter to get all the latest updates on this exciting community reading project.

READ! Copies of "The Grapes of Wrath" are available for loan at the Library or for purchase at a 20% discount at Books on the Common. The book is also available at the Library on audiocassette, CD and Playaway and can be found for download as an e-book at several sites. See below for details.

DISCUSS! Sign up for one of numerous book discussions taking place around town (see details below for sessions open to the general public), or register your book group to participate. Contact Karen Kazzi at the Library to get a special book group kit, including multiple copies to borrow, plus special facilitator and book group materials.

LEARN! Find out more about the book, the author and the times at one of many lectures, exhibits and other educational programs listed below. You can also explore many related print and online resources.

ENJOY! The Big Read is not just about books. Don't miss related music, art and other cultural programs, including the special presentation of Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travellin' with Will Kaufman September 30th at the Ridgfield Playhouse.

SHARE! Inspired by Tom Joad's famous speech at the end of the novel, we will be collecting non-perishable food items at many Big Read events, for donation to the Ridgefield Food Pantry..


Program Sponsors & Partners

Ridgefield's The Big Read is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wadsworth Russell Lewis Fund, Books on the Common, the Friends of the Ridgefield Library and numerous community organizations. Project partners include:

Public Event Organizers and Presenters

The Acoustic Celebration
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Books on the Common
David Pollack Vintage Posters
Founders Hall
Friends of the Ridgefield Library
League of Women Voters
Productions for Young People
Ridgefield Action Committee for the Environment
Ridgefield Arts Council
Ridgefield Community Center/Lounsbury House
Ridgefield Crossings
Ridgefield Green Village Initiative
Ridgefield Library
The Ridgefield Playhouse
Ridgefield Public Schools
Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra

 

Participating Book Discussion Groups

Barlow Mountain Book Club
Brady Book Group mother/son discussion group
The Circle of Friends
Daybreak Boys mother/son discussion group
Founders Hall
Friends of the Ridgefield Library
Girls of Summer
Mimosa Book Club
The Nonfictioneers (Ridgefield Library)
Reading Is a Family Affair (Ridgefield Library parent/child discussion series)
Ridgefield Crossings
Ridgefield Library Staff & Board of Directors
Ridgefield Newcomers
St. Mary Book Club
Street Talkers
Treasured Time Book Club
Van Wees Book Club

Media Partners

i95 fm
98Q, WLAD, Oldies 850
95.9 The Fox
96.7 The Coast
Hearst Connecticut Media
The Ridgefield Press
Morris Media Group
Ridgefield Patch
Ridgefield Talk of Our Town – ridgefieldctblog.com



Public Programs & Events

 

Exhibit: Posters of American Social Realism and the Great Depression
September 2 through 30
Ridgefield Library

From the collection of David Pollack Vintage Posters

On display are graphic works created for public and private organizations from 1929 through the full economic recovery of the 1950s. Among the artists of these posters are the multi-talented Ben Shahn, John Steuart Curry and a cadre of anonymous artists toiling to create posters for the WPA (Work Projects Administration) and other New Deal Agencies.  

All of the posters exhibited are original printings, and include 5 posters created by Shahn for the CIO Political Action Committee. These rare posters utilize Shahn's highly stylized imagery of the common man in his struggle to achieve equality and succeed. Of special interest is the anonymously created  "Rural Slums on Worn Out Lands" a Federal Resettlement Administration poster. Also on display will be a WPA poster created by Louis Siegriest for the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939, and several anonymous WPA posters created for the NY and CT WPAs.


Facilitator Training: Workshop for Discussion Leaders
Monday, September 13, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

Library staff and other experienced facilitators lead an orientation and networking session for Big Read discussion facilitators. Registration requested.

Facilitator Training: Workshop for Discussion Leaders
Wednesday, September 15, 10:00 AM
Ridgefield Library

Library staff and other experienced facilitators lead an orientation and networking session for Big Read discussion facilitators. Registration requested.

Book Discussion: "The Grapes of Wrath"for residents of Ridgefield Crossings
Wednesday, September 22, 2:00 PM
Ridgefield Crossings

Assistant Library Director Mary Rindfleisch leads a discussion open to all residents of Ridgefield Crossings.

Lecture: An Introduction to John Steinbeck and "The Grapes of Wrath"
Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

Dr. Mark Schenker, Associate Dean at Yale College, kicks off Ridgefield's Big Read by providing background and context for readers of "The Grapes of Wrath." Registration requested.

Listen to a recording of the lecture.

Exhibit: Banned Books Week

September 25 through October 2
Ridgefield Library

The Library celebrates Banned Books Week with a look at challenges to "The Grapes of Wrath" over the past 60 years.

Film Screening & Discussion: "Of Mice and Men"

Saturday, September 25, 10:00 AM
Ridgefield Library

Mark Edwards, professor of Media Studies at Sacred Heart University, will moderate discussion of the 1930s as depicted in Steinbeck's novel and the 1939 film. No registration.

Book Discussion: Controversy and "The Grapes of Wrath"
Wednesday, September 29, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

Library staff member Judi Margolin leads a discussion, with special emphasis on what has made "The Grapes of Wrath" so controversial, from its original publication through the present day. Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Registration requested. Copies of the book are available for borrowing by registered participants at the Fiction Desk on the Library's 2nd floor.

Concert and Multimedia Presentation: Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travellin'
Thursday, September 30, 7:30 PM
Ridgefield Playhouse

A Big Read keynote event, with actor/singer/writer Will Kaufman portraying the life and art of Depression Era balladeer Woody Guthrie. Plus a special "Grapes of Wrath" wine tasting at 6:30 courtesy of Mélangé Fine Wine and Spirits.

Co-sponsored by The Acoustic Celebration and The Ridgefield Playhouse. To purchase tickets visit www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org. Show your Ridgefield Library card and get a special $10 discount admission price.

Special Event: Ridgefield Cultural Festival
Saturday, October 2, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Ballard Park
Look for The Big Read booth at this community celebration launching National Arts & Humanities Month. Plus enjoy readings from the novel and musical selections from the Dust Bowl era, on the Festival mainstage.

Concert: Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra Plays Aaron Copland
Saturday, October 2, 8:00 PM
Anne S. Richardson Auditorium, Ridgefield High School
The Ridgefield Symphony performs Musical Masters, including "Variations on a Shaker Theme" by Steinbeck contemporary Aaron Copland. Reservations and ticket purchase at www.ridgefieldsymphony.org.

Book Discussion: "Meltdown" by Paul Mason
Tuesday, October 5, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library
The Library's Nonfictioneers book group discusses "Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed" by Paul Mason. "Meltdown" tells the story of America’s recent economic collapse, which precipitated a major recession comparable to the 1930s, sent shocks throughout the global financial system and also brought down other national economies. A great preparation for Nick Perna's lecture on October 7th. No registration required.

Lecture: Steinbeck's America: The Economics of the Great Depression
Thursday, October 7, 7:30 PM
Lounsbury House/Ridgefield Community Center

Dr. Nick Perna, nationally recognized economist and a top economic forecaster in the United States, will discuss the Great Depression as depicted in Steinbeck’s "The Grapes of Wrath," including a comparison to the economic turmoil of the past several years. Co-sponsored by Books on the Common and the Ridgefield Community Center. Please register at 203-431-9100 or info@booksonthecommon.com.

 

Family Concert: Roots of Country Music
Monday, October 11, 2:00 PM
Ridgefield Library
Performer Richard Stillman presents a program for children and families focusing on music of the time and place of "The Grapes of Wrath," including traditional Appalachian folk ballads, gospel songs and Western swing. No registration required.

Book Discussion: "The Grapes of Wrath" for members of Founders Hall
Thursday, October 14, 2:30 PM
Founders Hall

Assistant Library Director Mary Rindfleisch leads a discussion open to all members of Founders Hall. Registration not required; copies of the book are available for borrowing at the Founders Hall reception desk.

One-Man Show: "John Steinbeck"performed by Michael Oakes
Tuesday, October 19, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

Actor/scholar Michael Oakes of Live Oakes Educational Theater in California brings John Steinbeck to life through selected readings and personal anecdotes. Mr. Oakes will perform for students during the day at East Ridge Middle School, courtesy of Productions for Young People, and in the evening at the Library, sponsored by the Wadsworth Russell Lewis Fund. Please register for the evening performance.


Book Discussion: "The Grapes of Wrath" for Friends of the Library
Wednesday, October 20, 10:00 AM
Ridgefield Library

The Friends of the Ridgefield Library host a book discussion. Open to members of the Friends of the Library. Bring your membership card for admittance, or sign up to become a member when you arrive. Registration requested. Copies of the book are available for borrowing by registered participants at the Fiction Desk on the Library's 2nd floor.

Family Book Discussion: "The Year Down Yonder" by Richard Peck
Wednesday, October 20, 6:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

The Library's Reading Is a Family Affair parent/child book discussion presents a "Little Read" of Richard Peck's "A Year Down Yonder," a Newbery Medal book set in the Great Depression. Children in grades 3 and up accompanied by an adult are invited to sign up in Children's Services to receive a free copy of the book and come to a pizza dinner followed by a lively book discussion. Made possible by the Friends of the Ridgefield Library. Registration required in Children's Services.

Book Discussion: "The Grapes of Wrath"
Thursday, October 21, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

The Friends of the Library host a discussion for the general public, led by Terrence Cheng, author and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Lehman College-CUNY. Registration requested. Copies of the book are available for borrowing by registered participants at the Fiction Desk on the Library's 2nd floor.


Film Screening & Panel Discussion: "Dirt! The Movie"

Wednesday, October 27, 7:00 PM
Ridgefield Library

Screening, followed by discussion of what is currently being done to connect people and agriculture to the land in our own state. Moderated by Dina Brewster of The Hickories CSA farm in Ridgefield. Co-sponsored by the Ridgefield Action Committee for the Environment and the Ridgefield Green Village Initiative.

Film Screening: "The Grapes of Wrath"
Thursday, October 28, 7:30 PM
The Ridgefield Playhouse

The classic 1940 film version of the novel, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad. Ford received an Academy Award for his direction, as did Jane Darwell for her Best Supporting Actress role as Ma Joad. You've read the book - now see the movie! Admission $5.00 for adults/seniors; students admitted free of charge. Reservations and ticket purchase at www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org.


Exhibit: America (continued) by photojournalist John Shearer
through January 2, 2010
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

John Shearer’s career as a photojournalist began in 1964, when at the age of seventeen he became one of the youngest staff photographers for LOOK magazine. Working for LIFE during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s, he quickly became a noted, award-winning photojournalist who focused primarily on the civil rights movement. His work in photography has now spanned forty-six years, and this exhibition brings together thirty photographs, the majority taken since 2004.

Shearer’s central concern throughout his career has been social justice, and the focus of this exhibition is immigration, which the artist believes to be the primary human rights issue currently facing the United States. The works in this exhibition explore immigration not as an isolated topic, but rather by relating it to the deeper issues of race, class, and economic disparity that are at the roots of discrimination and injustice. Special interpretative materials for teens and adults allow the viewer to draw connections between Shearer's work and Steinbeck's novel and times.

Exhibit runs through 1/2/11. Details at www.aldrichart.org.

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Library Materials

Circulating materials, most reference books and non-fiction DVDs are shelved together in the stacks. Audiobooks on cassette & CD, are in the Fiction Room. "The Grapes of Wrath" is also available on Playaway. Ebook versions are available for download from several websites.


 


Other Resources

The official Big Read website
The Big Read educational materials on Steinbeck and "The Grapes of Wrath"
Listen to "The Grapes of Wrath" Radio Show
- Also available on CD at the Library
National Steinbeck Center (Salinas, CA)
Center for Steinbeck Studies (San Jose State University)
Great Books Discussion Guide for John Steinbeck
"Voices from the Dust Bowl" (American Folk Life Center, Library of Congress)
Understanding the Grapes of Wrath: A Research Guide for Students
Naturalism in American Literature by Dr. Donna M. Campbell of Washington State University
Literature Resource Center - Library card needed for log-in
Biography In Context - Library card needed for log-in
Books and Authors - Library card needed for log-in
Novelist Plus - Library card needed for log-in
U.S. History in Context - Library card needed for log-in

General Guidelines for Facilitating a Book Discussion
Questions and Suggestions for Discussing "The Grapes of Wrath"

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