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Get Hooked on a Book

Orange County Library System presents the NEA Big Read virtual program for kids based on Hope Jahren’s “Lab Girl”


Words by Stephanie Lum, Assistant Manager, Melrose Center, Orange County Library System

“People are like plants. They grow toward the light.”

Lab Girl

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. Orange County Library System, in partnership with Valencia College, is one of 84 not-for-profit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read campaign for 2020-2021. The two organizations are teaming up this spring to celebrate Lab Girl, a memoir by award-winning American geobiologist Hope Jahren.

Readers of all ages are invited to participate in virtual events and activities that honor the themes of the book:
  • The campaign kicks off with a virtual discussion about where curiosity can lead with The Power of Curiosity with Emily Graslie, former Chief Curiosity Correspondent for the Chicago Field Museum and creator of the Brainscoop YouTube Channel.
  • Library staff will host book discussions and offer a free copy of Lab Girl to all attendees to keep for their personal libraries.
  • Lab Girl author Hope Jahren will offer a virtual keynote from Oslo, Norway, on April 17 to discuss her work as an author and scientist.
  • Parents with early learners are invited to take a stroll along a StoryWalk, an educational opportunity that invites families to share a book posted along a popular walking path in the community.
  • Kids will find take-and-make craft kits at library locations and may attend programs on a wide range of subjects, including conservation with Green Thumbs, Dirty Feet, physics with Roller Coaster Physics, botany with Powerful Pollinators and the power of mindfulness with A World of Pausabilities.
  • Teens are invited to attend the Women in STEM Panel, which will bring women from across the spectrum of science, technology, engineering and math to share what inspired them, what they are doing now and how they got there.
  • Local chefs will offer recipes and cooking tips with plant-based recipes, while local farmers teach the basics of starting an herb garden at home. Additional programs for adults on composting, mushroom cultivation and Florida habitats and ecology will run throughout the series from March 28 through April 24.
  • The campaign culminates in a Gardening Festival day of workshops with programming from local organizations.

Visit ocls.info/bigread for details on book discussions, additional recommended reads, and reading challenges as well as a complete listing of NEA Big Read programming.

OCLS will host Big Read events virtually to ensure participation is safe for library customers and staff. All library locations are currently open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., for essential services, including materials return, grab-and-go service, and computer usage for up to one hour. Check out their website latest updates on library services and information on using the library from home.

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