Big Read DC - Read it. Enjoy it. Pass it on.

A DC Read-In Event

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2012

book & food swapOn Saturday March 10, donate a gently used book or healthful nonperishable food item at the Southwest Library, and choose a donated book in return! A maximum of three items may be exchanged. 

The food drive will continue through Friday, March 23. All food collected will be donated to a Washington food pantry. For a list of appropriate food items, visit

Books that Changed Your World

Published on Monday, February 27, 2012

Have you read a book that changed your life or made you remember the characters so well you wanted to "shout out" to the world?
Well, this is your opportunity to express your feelings. Come to the DC Read-In and share your favorite book with others who love to read.

The DC Read-In takes place on March 10,  from 10 a.m. - noon. 

Book Cover

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

Book Cover of The Big Read book this year is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. The story takes place on a plantation in Louisiana, where, although blacks are free, their lives have not changed that much since slavery. Told in a realistic, matter-of-fact way, the book depicts a young man on death row for a crime he did not commit and a teacher who is tasked by his aunt who raised him to try to help the young man die with dignity.


Attend programs across the city from April 17 - May 15, 2010 celebrating A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Search Big Read programs by month.

Participate in DC Reads 2011.



Volunteer Opportunities

Learn how you can help with Big Read.

About the Author

Read Ernest J. Gaines' bio.

Check It Out

Find copies of A Lesson Before Dying.

Online Book Discussions

The Washington Post hosts live book chats at noon on April 19, April 26, May 3 and May 10. Join the discussion.  Missed the last three live chats?  Read the transcripts.

Photo of Lisa Frazier PageMonday, May 10, 2010 
Lisa Frazier Page Discusses A Lesson Before Dying
Noon - 1 p.m.

*The Chat Room will open at 11:00 a.m. for questions/comments

Lisa Frazier Page, an editor and award-winning reporter at The Washington Post, is co-author of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School. Lisa is a graduate of New Orleans’s Dillard University and holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She grew up in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and four children.

Check out A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School from your library or purchase copies at or

A Conversation with Ernest J. Gaines

Watch a video interview with the author.

Free Movie Pass

Print your screening pass for a free showing of A Lesson Before Dying at Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14.

Where Has Your Book Traveled?

The Library will giveaway copies of A Lesson Before Dying at some events. In exchange for the free book, we want you to e-mail us the places your book has traveled throughout the year at Continue to send your emails even when the program ends on May 15. A SPECIAL GIFT to the first 50 people to e-mail.

Radio Show

Listen to they read from A Lesson Before Dying. Listen now to Track 1 and Track 2.

Discussion Questions

Encourage family and friends to talk about the book. Use these questions to start your discussion.

Works by Ernest J. Gaines

Read these books written by Gaines.

Related Works

Enjoy additional books related to the Big Read selection.

Special thanks to:

The Big Read Logo        D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities logo

Humanities Council logo       Radio One Logo  

Regal Entertainment Group logo     Reading Is Fundamental Logo     

The Washington Post

Community Partners: Boys Town Washington D.C., Carver Mansions, Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, Coolidge Senior High School, Politics and Prose, Roots Junior High School, The Links Inc., and The School Without Walls Senior High School

Visit for more Big Read information.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest, and funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.