NEA Big Read-Dearborn 2020

Dearborn Public Library has done it again!

It has received yet another NEA Big Read grant and will present a fourth community-wide reading event, this time in early 2020 and centered on an award-winning book detailing a woman’s career in science, as well as her triumphs over personal obstacles.

The NEA Big Read grant awarded to Dearborn is for $15,000. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest and seeks to broaden understanding of the world, communities and individuals through the joy of sharing a good book.The latest NEA Big Read-Dearborn will focus on the 2016 memoir Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, a geobiologist from rural Minnesota who not only knows her trees and flowers, but “has some serious literary chops” (Washington Post).

Her bestselling memoir Lab Girl tells the story of a young woman who finds friendship in odd places, battles bipolar disorder, perseveres through setbacks and relishes hard-earned triumphs, and becomes a respected scientist and passionate observer of the natural world.

Called one of the best books of the year by, among others, NPR, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and Elle,  the memoir “does for botany what Oliver Sacks’s essays did for neurology, and what Stephen Jay Gould’s writings did for paleontology” (New York Times). It’s “immediately engrossing and extremely readable” (The Guardian).

The theme of the NEA Big Read-Dearborn is “The World Is Your Lab” and programming will concentrate on science and nature.

The Big Read Dearborn Kick-off, scheduled for March 7, 2020 at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, will feature free copies of Lab Girl and activities for all ages.

Then throughout March and April 2020, many events will offer the community a chance to learn about the book and its themes, and include lectures, films, book discussions, nature walks, and programming focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

To help bring this massive project to life, Dearborn Public Library is partnering with The Henry Ford, the Arab American National Museum, AAUW-Dearborn, the Dearborn Community Fund, Dearborn Public Schools, the City of Dearborn Department of Public Information, Artspace, Dearborn Library Foundation, Dearborn Library Commission, Friends of the Library-Dearborn, University of Michigan-Dearborn Mardigian Library and the Environmental Interpretive Center, Henry Ford College Eshleman Library, Dearborn Historical Museum, Beaumont Medical Library, East & West Dearborn Downtown Development authorities, Friends of the Rouge, The Dearborn Inn, Green Brain Comics, and Dearborn Heights Libraries. The list of partners continues to grow.

Organizations or businesses interested in being involved with the Big Read Dearborn should contact the library at (313) 943-2037.

Dearborn Public Library’s first Big Read was focused on The Call of the Wild by Jack London in 2013-14; the second was Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe in 2015-16; and the third was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri in 2017-18.

Dearborn Public Library is one of 78 nonprofit organizations to receive an NEA Big Read grant for programs scheduled through June 2020.

Please visit or for updates on the 2019-20 NEA Big Read-Dearborn.

About the NEA Big Read

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $20 million to organizations nationwide. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.

About Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

What’s in a Name? & Recipes to Remember

We recently ran out of copies of the What’s in a Name? book, but we ordered 60 more and now those are available for purchase for $10 each at Henry Ford Centennial Library, 16301 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn.

Additionally, we have added copies to the library collection, so with a Dearborn Public Library card, you can check out a copy for free.

What’s in a Name?

A collection of essays, short stories, and poems centered around themes of family, names, and the immigrant experience. Click here to check out or reserve a copy from our library collection. 






And…we have also added the Big Read cookbook:

Recipes to Remember

Over 100 recipes from local authors. Click here to check out or reserve a copy from our library collection. 

Thank you for your support.


Big Read Community Anthologies UPDATE

The What’s in a Name? book of family stories and poems came in! Copies are available for purchase for $10 each at Circulation at Henry Ford Centennial Library 16301 Michigan Ave., and a limited amount will be available at Esper and Bryant soon (copies are in the delivery boxes – should arrive as early as tomorrow). We accept cash, check made out to City of Dearborn, or credit card.

The Cookbooks are also still available for purchase for $10 each.

Processing is adding copies to the collection for checkout.

Any funds raised will go directly towards our next community-wide reading program in Dearborn.

Thank you!

Big Read Community Anthologies

The Big Read Cookbooks are available! Copies are available at Henry Ford Centennial Library 16301 Michigan Ave., Bryant Branch 22100 Michigan Ave., and Esper Branch 12929 West Warren for $10 each.

We accept cash, check (made out to City of Dearborn), or credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express).

We ordered 100 paperback copies of the What’s in a Name? book. Their estimated arrival date is January 8-10.


It’s available now on Amazon, but we hope if you do decide to purchase a copy you will consider waiting to purchase it directly from us for $10 each, unless of course you’re not in the area or can’t make it to the library.  Sorry again for the delay. We will send out another post when the copies of What’s in a Name? arrive.


We will also be adding copies of both books to the collection, so you can check them out for free with a Dearborn Library card.


Thank you!

Community Anthologies in the works

We’re getting closer to publishing the community anthologies, Recipes to Remember and What’s in a Name? We are working on proofing the texts right now. We hope to publish them in late September. Sorry it’s taking so long. As soon as they are available, we will post information on how to obtain copies. Thank you for your patience!

Videos to Share

We have some Big Read videos produced by City of Dearborn Television (CDTV), part of the Dearborn Department of Public Information.

Click here to view Jeff Karoub’s multimedia music performance at the Wrap-Up exploring his family experiences with immigration.

Click here to view all of the individual interviews from the Big Read video project. CDTV is still in the process of editing a few more, so if you don’t see your interview please keep checking our YouTube page and subscribe for updates.

Thank you!

Here are some photos from the Wrap-Up. Well, that’s a wrap for the Big Read! We hope our “What’s in a name?” celebration of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake was as fun, educational, and enriching for you as it was for us.

We wanted to say thank you very much to the public for participating in many ways, including reading the book, attending programs, submitting family recipes or stories/poems, being part of the film project, and/or creating crafty items such as mosaic name tiles or fabric squares (which, by the way, have been added to the beautiful quilt made by Zaman International).

We would also like to send a BIG thank you to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell; State Representative Abdullah Hammoud; Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr.; Dearborn City Council Members; the Big Read partners and sponsors; the Big Read Planning Committee; all the performers, lecturers, and book discussion moderators; the entire staff of Dearborn Public Library led by Library Director Maryanne Bartles, Deputy Director Julie Schaefer, and Administrative Librarian Steven Smith; and all additional City of Dearborn staff members and others who helped bring this massive project to life.

Furthermore, we want to recognize and thank the Dearborn businesses who donated treats for our Wrap-Up event: Alcamo’s, Bartz Bakery, Byblos Banquets, Cheat Treats, Dearborn Sweets, Park Place, Prince’s Bakery, and Shatila. And we want to acknowledge Impressive Graphics for making the stunning Big Read T-shirts and banners. Finally, the Big Read would not be possible without the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest.

We are truly grateful to all of you.

P.S., we hope to publish the cookbook and “What’s in a name?” book over the summer. Please check for updates.

Big Read Wrap-Up Event


Saturday, April 28
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.


Henry Ford Centennial Library
1st Floor – Auditorium


This event is FREE and open to the public without registration.


      Join us for a multimedia musical performance by Dearborn resident Jeff Karoub, exploring his family experiences with immigration. Then we’ll have an “open mic” where authors of our latest community anthology will read excerpts from their work. Light refreshments will be served. 

  • Jeff Karoub goes on at 2 p.m.
  • Drawing for prizes, raffle winners announced at 3 p.m.
  • Intermission (15 minutes). Enjoy “desserts from around the world” in Rotunda area.
  • Open mic begins at 3:15 p.m.

For more information, please call 313-943-2330

Also, there are a few more Storytimes in week 6 (the last week) of the Big Read:

Children with a caregiver are invited to hear tales from around the world. Ages 2-6.

Tuesday, April 24, 4 p.m.: Henry Ford Centennial Library, Youth Services
Thursday, April 26, 1 p.m.: John F. Kennedy, Jr. Library, 24602 Van Born Rd. Dearborn Heights

And one more Book Discussion:

Discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. Pick up a FREE copy at any Dearborn Public Library (while supplies last). 

Thursday, April 26, 6:30 p.m.: City Hall Artspace Lofts, 13615 Michigan Ave.

Week 5 Events – UPDATED

(Please note: the Food Around the World Event scheduled for April 20 has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience.)

April 16: Film Series – Essential Arrival 


Henry Ford Centennial Library – Auditorium

7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Come watch Essential Arrival: Michigan’s Indian Immigrants in the 21st Century with Q&A from Professor Arifa Javed of the University of Michigan-Dearborn following the film.

“A comprehensive, multi-angled inquiry, Essential Arrival features interviews with experts in fields such as law, sociology, and public policy, in addition to many families of Indian immigrants in Michigan, and paints a comprehensive, essential picture of Indian Americans.” Not rated. 61 minutes. Part of the FOLD Blockbuster Film Series.

April 17: Pizza & Pages


Henry Ford Centennial Library – Youth Services Room

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and make new friends. Pizza provided. Grades 7-12. Youth Services Program Room. Pick up a free copy of the book at the Kickoff on March 18, or any Dearborn Public Library, March 19-April 28 (while supplies last). Copies also available for checkout in paperback, ebook, book kit, or audio.

April 19: Ethnic Cooking


Caroline Kennedy Library

7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Culinary instructor Mary Spencer will prepare a variety of ethnic foods reflecting the diverse cultures in metro Detroit. Mary will prepare panzanella salad (Italian bread and tomato salad), Hungarian chicken paprikash, and warm Indian rice pudding. Recipes and samples will be provided. Registration appreciated, (313) 791-3800.


April 20: Food Around the World


Henry Ford Centennial Library – Mezzanine

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Sample a diverse range of culinary delights from local restaurants.  This is a ticketed event.  Call (313) 943-2330 for details.


Book Discussions

Discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.  

Wednesday, April 18, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.: Henry Ford Centennial Library, Ford Room. 

Friday, April 20, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: University of Michigan – Dearborn, Mardigian Library.  Light refreshments will be served.



Children with a caregiver are invited to hear tales from around the world.  Ages 2-6.  

Tuesday, April 17, 4:00 – 4:30 p.m.: Henry Ford Centennial Library, Youth Services Room. 

Tuesday, April 24, 4:00 – 4:30 p.m.: Henry Ford Centennial Library, Youth Services Room.

Visit for more information and a full list of Big Read events.