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Massillon Museum NEO Big Read kickoff planned for July 11

Patricia Faulhaber
Suburbanite correspondent
The author of this year's book for the NEO Big Read program is Roz Chast (Photo courtesy of Bill Hayes).

MASSILLON One of the highly popular programs that the Massillon Museum has hosted for 13 consecutive years is the NEA Big Read program. This year’s NEA Big Read book is “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast. The program kicks off 1 to 3 p.m. on July 11 in front of the Massillon Museum, 121 Lincoln Way E.

There will be more than 800 books distributed free to those who want to participate. Most of the programming surrounding the book will be virtual with some in-person programming.

The Museum has been able to host the program because of the NEA Big Read grant for each year. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

“We usually get around 4,000 participants each year from Massillon, western Stark County and surrounding counties,” Massillon Museum Outreach Manager Stephanie Toole said.

Each year, the book is selected by a committee that includes the education and outreach manager, the executive director and representatives from the library and others. This year’s selection is a graphic style book and is for young and older adults.

Toole said this book was selected because, “We all agreed that the book was engaging, relatable and offered opportunities for interesting programming. The Library’s bookmobile will be parked out front of the museum and will be helping to dispense the books free to participants while the supply lasts. Each person will get a bookmark too that will list all of the programming available for this book.”

“Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” is a 2014 graphic memoir of American cartoonist and author Roz Chast. The book is about Chast's parents in their final years. Her father, George, died at the age of 95 and her mother, Elizabeth, who worked as an assistant elementary school principal, died at the age of 97.

Some of the programming is still being planned but one event that is scheduled is a keynote presentation by the author on Aug. 13. The presentation will be a pre-recorded virtual presentation which will be broadcast on MCTV in the evening. It may also be on the Museum’s Facebook page and youtube.

“I highly recommended that everyone check out our website at Massillonmuseum.org/bigread to keep up-to-date on all of the programming and events. The in-person programming will have limited room and will require pre-registration,” Toole said. “The Big Read program is a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about the museum and the community. With the $15,000 NEO Big Read grant, we are able to provide the book for free and offering exciting programming. We’re always thrilled to involve as many members of the community as possible.”

The NEA Big Read is a community reading program focused on a single book. Massillon Museum and its community partners create innovative and critical programs highlighting the book themes, exposing participants to new genres and ideas.

The selected book is offered to the community for free so that many can participate. Since 2008, Massillon Museum has proudly distributed more than 26,000 books to Massillon and its surrounding communities.

For more details, call 330-833-4061 or visit www.massillonmuseum.org.

This year's NEO Big Read program's book is Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. The kickoff for the program is 1 to 3 p.m., July 11.