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NFL Star Will Appear At ‘Big Read’ Kickoff

By Staff | Jan 7, 2009

John Thornton, Cincinnati Bengals star, reads to his sons, Jalen and Ty, from “The Call of the Wild.” Thornton, a standout with the WVU Mountaineers, was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and played there for three years before joining the Bengals. His wife, Alison, is the daughter of Ron and Barbara Snell of New Martinsville. John will make an appearance at the kickoff event for “The Big Read,” from 2-4 p.m. Jan. 25 at the New Martinsville Campus of West Virginia Northern Community College.

Pro football star John Thornton of the Cincinnati Bengals will be among those taking part in the kickoff of “The Big Read” from 2-4 p.m. Jan. 25, at the New Martinsville campus of West Virginia Northern Community College. John Thornton is the name of a main character in Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” the book that will be the focus of “The Big Read.”

The Big Read month of February will feature a variety of free events all open to the public. At the kickoff event, Dr. Terry Craig, WVNCC Professor of English, will give an introduction to the book; Ellen Pope, a former Iditarod participant, will be on hand with her faithful Husky to discuss Alaska’s annual dogsled race; and Occasions on Main Street will provide refreshments. The first 25 people will receive a free copy of the book.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded ArtsLink a $2,500 matching grant to bring their Big Read to the region, according to Marianne Hughes, co-chair of the local committee. “The Big Read is a series of communitywide reading events designed to revitalize the role of reading and literature among Americans of all ages. Schools, book groups, libraries, and other organizations are being encouraged to read Jack London’s ‘The Call of the Wild’.” she said. Local sponsors include the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley and AAA Homes.

Further events include a Silent Read at the Lincoln Theater on Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring hourly reading selections from the book by prominent members of the community such as Mayor Lucille Blum, Bill Forbes, and Carman Harman. In-between, readers will be invited to sit down and read the book on their own. Light refreshments will be served in the foyer and questions and opinions concerning the book will be discussed. A limited number of free copies will be available at the theater as well.

ArtsLink has distributed books and reader’s guides to eighth graders in New Martinsville, Short Line, and Paden City. Approximately 200 River High School students will also be reading the book. New Martinsville Girl Scouts will include the book in their community project and be available to read aloud at the hospital and senior centers. The 4-H clubs are being asked to help with the distribution of free books, posters, and reader’s guides.

Raffle tickets will be handed out at each event; the more events a reader attends, the better the chances of winning a prize.

A dog look-alike contest is planned as well as a Dog Paws (Pause) reading, a Humane Society event in which owners bring their dogs to be read to.

The entire community of Meadville/Wick will be asked to read the book as a group effort. Committee co-chair Betty Tustin is organizing this effort, which she hopes will draw national attention.

The New Martinsville Public Library will host a brown bag book discussion at noon on Feb. 25 and the Book Club at the Bookstore on North Street will discuss the book at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17.

Book discussions are also scheduled at the New Martinsville Health Care Center, the Wetzel County Senior Citizens Center, the New Martinsville City Building, Barb’s Restaurant. The Jug in Middlebourne held one Jan. 6. A limited number of copies of “The Call of the Wild” and reader’s guides will be available at these venues.

“The Big Read is not only about reading Jack London’s 139-page classic,” explained Tina Neil, a member of the committee. “It is an excellent book to read aloud-grandparents to grandchildren, teens to teens, mothers to daughters, sons to their dads, and vice-versa. It is a superb quality time alternative to video games and TV. The need to read is greater than ever; ArtsLink is counting on your enthusiastic support and participation.”

The Big Read is presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Additional funding for The Big Read is provided by the Ruffin A. Cooper Jr. Endowment and through a bequest made in memory of Dorothy Lois Beverly. The National Endowment for the Arts also acknowledges the following organizations and individuals for their encouragement of and contributions to The Big Read: American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers.

More events will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information, visit the ArtsLink Web site at www.artslinkwv.org. All ArtsLink activities strive to be universally accessible. Persons with special needs may contact Donna Earley, ArtsLink program coordinator, for assistance at 304-455-2278.